Jackie Kellso

Archive for the ‘fight or flight’ Category

Why are You so Negative? I’ll Tell You Why, and it’s Not Your Fault.

In brain, brain-based, brain-based coach, brain-based coaching, coping with pressure at work, corporate life, cortisol, dealing with a difficult coworker, disagreements, emotional baggage, emotional brain, executive brain, fight, fight or flight, limbic system, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, negativity, negativity at work, neural pathways, neuroscience, Norman Vincent Peale, office politics, passive-aggressive, pre-frontal cortex, problem-solve, profesional boundaries, professional behavior, Professional Reputation, self-defensiveness, self-improvement, stress and worry, stress hormones, work-related problems, work-related stress on October 2, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Do you find yourself focusing on how disorganized your manager is, or how your colleague can’t run a meeting, or how your team can’t come up with the right idea, or how disgusted you are by your CEO’s poor communication skills?

Well, if you are criticizing just about everyone and everything, guess what?  You have lost perspective, objectivity and healthy, personal boundaries.  In fact, you are unwittingly creating your own hell and it’s keeping your brain from its executive powers to think, problem-solve and be most effective.

In this state, some of us will bully, become passive-aggressive, withdraw, gossip, cry, or beat the hell out of ourselves and eat five chocolate bars to get a kick of serotonin. You get the idea.  When we are unable to cope, we start moving into old-fashioned self-defense. There’s no resolution in this state, only more frustration and pain.

Being in a constant hypercritical mode doesn’t take that much these days, with so much pressure on us to deliver.  But, there’s usually another factor — unclaimed emotional baggage that we’ve carried into the present day.  Here’s why:  our brains will respond with whatever we give them.  As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Dwelling on negative thoughts is like fertilizing weeds.”  The chronic re-injury to the brain from negative thinking literally changes our brains.

These weeds are neural pathways that have been constructed around negative thinking.  Think of highways and how they connect to one another to move traffic along. In the brain, these are called synapses. When fired-up they will stimulate the release of stress hormones, which set the stage for unwanted reactions of the mind and body. In fact, over time we can see how the stress takes a toll on our health: migraines, depression, chronic fatigue, etc. This is why being negative is not your fault; your brain has been bred for it. The good news is, we can get help from our executive (or thinking) brains.

The key is to recognize the symptoms. Are you waking up and going to sleep (if you’re sleeping, that is) with anger, rage, vitriol, depression, etc? If this is the case, even if you’re not openly complaining, your body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and attitude are most certainly giving you away.  You’re not hiding from anyone.  So, you’re also negatively impacting your reputation.

Look, this isn’t the moment now to start berating yourself.  It’s the time to take charge of your brain.  The pre-frontal cortex is the thinking brain and can be used to manage the limbic or emotional brain that is controlling your moods. So to get on top of this, it’s important to feed your brain thoughts like, I can’t control other people or outside things so I’m going to accept what is. In other words, I’m going to let it go, surrender, and move on. We have the power to clear out our thoughts about what went wrong during the day and leave room to start with a fresh outlook the next day.  This is the beginning of re-wiring the brain and creating new neural pathways.  The brain has enormous plasticity!

So, take the current work situation and use it wisely.  How is it reinforcing your negative thinking?  Who is triggering you into a self-defensive posture? By examining our current relationships and challenges, we have the opportunity to use our executive brains to keep our histories where they belong — in the past. (This is why I decided to become certified in brain-based coaching; the brain is fascinating, our current experiences are usable, and with focus, we can emerge enlightened.)

Lastly, sleep matters.  The brain cleanses what it has taken in during the day, while we sleep. So, to manage the hamster wheel of obsessive thinking and  make room for a new day, with a fresh start, we need ample sleep.  If not possible nightly, a daily 20 minute nap can do wonders too!

In the end, please don’t blame yourself (or others) for how you feel but do take responsibility for what you do. Go home tonight, leave the challenges of the day behind you, and enjoy your well-deserved rest.  Your brain will love you for it!

Happy thinking,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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How to Stay Out of an Argument

In arguments, avoiding arguments, communicating, communication, communication skills, conflict resolution, dealing with a difficult coworker, diplomacy and tact, disagree agreeably, disagreements, fight or flight, interpersonal skills, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, negativity at work, negotiating, office politics, opinions, passive-aggressive, personal development, personal growth, stress hormones, tone of voice, Uncategorized, women, women in the workplace, women working on September 22, 2017 at 5:05 pm

“I hear what you’re saying, but…you’re wrong!”  How many times have you used that phrase?  How many arguments have you started as a result? Arguments are unforgiving. You can’t take back what you say. It’s like trying to apologize to the glass you dropped on the floor.  “I’m sorry,” won’t glue the pieces back together.

And why argue over opinions anyway?  They are just concepts; there’s no actual turf (other than the ego) that arguing defends. The threat we feel when we argue kicks off the “fight or flight” mechanism. The body becomes flooded with stress hormones and the thinking part of the brain literally shuts down.

So, if you’ve been getting caught up in opinion wars, you have not been thinking clearly or objectively.

Some helpful tips to help you stay out of an argument:


Stop Trying to Win

Think of others’ opinions as experiences that are connected to emotions. So, when you try to discredit or win, you are essentially saying, “Hey, your experience doesn’t count.” Experiences are valid proof of why people feel the way they do, which is why people can justify their opinions. Let it go.

Never Say “You’re Wrong”

It is not respectful to send someone’s opinion down the garbage shoot. Look for one aspect of the person’s opinion you can agree with:

Clarify what you’ve heard. “You said that dogs are too much work so you don’t like them as pets.”

Agree on a point.  “I can understand that as a busy person, it can be too much to really enjoy the company of a dog.”

Do not insert BUT or HOWEVER.

Add Your Opinion
“I have found a way to balance my schedule so that I can enjoy my freedom and my dog.”

Just the Facts, Please
A great way to prevent getting emotionally charged is to use facts to replace feelings. Instead of, “Dogs are the best creatures in the whole world!” say, “Research suggests that when people have dogs, they live longer, healthier lives.”

And the Final Word Goes To…
Both of you. If you let go of the need to be right and make it your goal to give the other person the latitude, you will create the space to be heard.  This method creates equal footing on the matter, mutual respect and a well-avoided argument.

Peacefully yours,

Jackie

You can also find this article on Womenworking.com.

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Not Fighting Back is Exhausting and Rewarding

In anger management, avoiding arguments, breakdown in communication, bullies at work, bullies in the office, bullies in the workplace, business relationships, communicating, communicating by phone, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, David Rock, dealing with a difficult coworker, Detach and Breathe, diplomacy and tact, disagreements, fight or flight, Gurus, interpersonal skills, professional behavior, Uncategorized on April 26, 2017 at 11:00 am

A few years ago, I was challenged by a very difficult client in a fairly visible, corporate position. She would routinely drop the ball on important details and cause mayhem in accomplishing tasks. She bullied and blamed others for problems that she caused. When confronted with a problem (of her making) would say, “Do you know who I am?” (Oh yes, she did!) Anyway, I had to deal with a lot of stress just to ensure that my service to her company was successful, beyond, and in spite of her.

So there I was, someone who touts herself as being an expert in interpersonal effectiveness, and I was failing to build a bridge of trust and rapport with this person, despite all efforts. And after dealing with her for so long, I frankly disliked her so much that it felt too insincere to want to build rapport. Yet, I had to remain professional.

In the midst of all this, she sent me an urgent email to call her ASAP. Taking a deep breath, I called. She then reprimanded me for failing to read the details of one of her emails, berated me for writing back without having done so, and projected onto me her own feelings of being so out-of-control by claiming I was chaotic and acting like a wreck.  Rage boiled and I could feel the sizzle in my brain. I thought I was going to explode and tear her fragile sense of importance into little tiny shreds. (That would have been my old way of coping with someone like this.) But no, I decided to walk-the-walk and model what I teach others to do.

I noticed several things happening as I was holding back my anger and thinking about what to do. First, I know that the act of thinking clearly during high-levels of negative emotions uses more stored glucose than the release of intense emotion. As a result, I found myself getting physically and mentally exhausted. The FIGHT response, my automatic protector, had a full tank of cortisol (stress hormone) at its disposal. My pre-frontal cortex (executive brain) was working really hard to find my way around these feelings and take charge of the conversation. And that was the good news. I had been working to build muscles to think when stressed, and had access to it. I simply used my mantras, “Detach and Breathe” (I wrote an article about the importance of using mantras to manage stress) and, “My feelings are none of her business.” They worked!

Once I got my emotions under control, I used a technique that David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute refers to as “Choose Your Focus.” The idea is to stay out of the DRAMA, PROBLEM and even DETAIL and move up the ladder to where constructive dialog can occur. The areas of focus are on the PLANNING and SOLUTION. So, here’s what the conversation sounded like:

CLIENT: “You need to calm down. If you had read my email you wouldn’t have had to write so many. This is absurd and it cannot continue this way.”

ME: “I think we’re talking about a breakdown in communication, and that’s fixable. So, if I understand correctly, we still need to determine the dates for the training.”

CLIENT: “Yes.”

Once she agreed, I held to the facts, and followed up the conversation with an email. It’s really that simple looking in; you just don’t go down there with the other person. But the effort to keep calm is zapping!  She will never know how much energy I spent keeping myself in a neutral and thinking place.

As challenging as this situation is, I see her as my Guru keeping my skills sharpened. It is so true that “Your Most Difficult Co-Worker is Your Greatest Teacher.”

Calmly yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Illusion of Taking Control

In business relationships, character, communicating, connection, control, control freaks, coping with pressure at work, corporate life, dealing with a difficult coworker, dealing with a male boss, diplomacy and tact, disagree agreeably, disagreements, empathic listening, fight or flight, human relations, illusion of control, insecure bosses, interpersonal skills, letting go, managing conflict, mindfulness, negativity at work, personality, spiritual growth on June 21, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Dear Control Freaks,

Here are a few examples that define the term “Control Freak”:

1. You have to be in charge of what’s happening or you lose control of your composure.  It could be as small as how chairs are lined up in a room, to scaring the driver in front of you by riding his tail in the fast lane, to push him over to the middle lane.

2. You must reign in other people or you lose control of your temper.  Don’t like someone’s expression or the fact that he’s not as enthusiastic about your project as you are? Well, how dare he!

3. Everyone should buy into your idea or you fear you will lose control of the outcome.  People are giving you feedback you don’t like or disagree with you so you disregard them and don’t see them as team-players.

4. You don’t like what’s happening and have either a FIGHT or FLIGHT response.  You argue or your bust out. You’ve completely lost control.

5. A lack of certainty of what’s happening makes you lose track of your thinking.  You can’t adequately plan the next steps. You feel overwhelmed to not get on top of things.  This is happening because stress hormone has taken over and wipes the pre-frontal cortex (thinking part of the brain) of rational thought.

6. You are miserable when you aren’t in the driver’s seat.  Literally.  Don’t like the way your husband drives?  He doesn’t signal early enough before turning?  So what do you do? You assign yourself as the family driver.

I say these things with deep empathy. I was a control freak with many aspects of the aforementioned as my symptoms.  The work it takes to LET GO and begin realizing that control is an illusion; that the only thing we ever have control over is our own behavior, is a painful but freeing shift to being mindful.

Sure, parents can control their children:  what they eat, when they go to bed, how much they study or play, but one cannot control a child’s spirit, or a child’s feelings. One cannot control a domestic cat’s nature:  you love it and care for it and provide it with scratching posts and toys, and it will still shred the hell out of your sofa.

Just yesterday, I attended a Spiritual Conference at Teacher’s College and one of the workshops I attended was called, Council Practice: Community, Art of Connection and Empathic Listening.  I had hoped to learn some new ways of facilitating improved listening and people skills through this workshop.  The school defined council as: “…a practice of open heartfelt expression and attentive empathic listening.”

So, I’m sitting in a circle with about 30 other people and within 5 minutes I realized that although with very good intentions on the parts of the facilitators, that this was nothing I would have designed and I was completely turned off by the exposure requested of the participants to play in this arena. The spirituality of this felt contrived to me, and the immediate assumption of this group as a ‘community’ of like-minded individuals didn’t work for me.  There were four rounds of everyone responding to a single question; some were barely audible, some overly emotional and some having no sense of when to stop talking. I sat there wanting to take control  – to break up the room into 3 small groups, to set the rules of play about being audible and concise and to create a better opportunity to get feedback and debrief each step, to ensure value was being transferred.

As an empathic listener by trade, I still only have so much patience.  Being asked to hear 29 other people speak four times = listening to 116 people’s stories, all in 90 minutes, with the idea of being open-hearted to all, was a bit much of an ask of me.  I wanted to yell or flee.  So when the question posed of us was, “What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever given to someone?”, I said, “The gift I’m giving is to me right now. I am sitting here fully awake to the fact that I have no say in the way this workshop is being run, and the reminder that I have no control. I’m glad to use this experience to become better at letting go.” And I meant it.

The “freak” in us just limits our ability to dance with the flow of reality.  By learning that we don’t have to love what’s happening and don’t have to change it is quite freeing.  We can move from having an illusion of needing to exert power to building skills in patience, and allowing ourselves to experience the teachings that life has in store for us.

Mindfully yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.