Business Today

Respond, Not React

If you lose your cool often, try fighting it with curiosity
Team BT   New Delhi     Print Edition: March 25, 2018
Respond, Not React

Anger bouts in people vary vastly. One person can be relatively unfazed, while another person could completely lose their cool. This has a lot to do with the complexities in each of us such as our personal history, temperament, circumstances and more.

If you look back over the past few days and regret having let anger get the better of you, there's no need to enrol for an anger management course. Try a mindfulness trick or two instead, like Chris Boutte, a frequent writer on mindfulness, does.

Outright meditation is helpful to those who find it easy to embrace it, but isn't for everyone. Many become very quickly bored with the practice and despite having had an interesting experience for a couple of days, give up on it. Boutte suggests using informal mindfulness - just coming into the moment, standing outside of oneself and noticing those first few signs of anger bubbling up.

"What I began to realise was that I was only acknowledging my anger when I was ready to explode, and it was often something that had been building up for a while. Since I wasn't recognising the early triggers of my anger, I wasn't able to deal with it before reacting in a way that I would regret," he writes on the TinyBuddha portal, a space for sharing life advice.

There are distinct early warning signs of oncoming anger. Stepping outside of one's thoughts to examine the pattern, the source, and the reason is a valuable tool to manage it. Instead of reacting, one is able to examine one's own anger with a certain curiosity and compassion. "Now, when I feel that initial anger within my body or mind, I get really curious. I take a calm breath and simply think, 'That's interesting. Why am I feeling this way towards this person or situation?'"

Managing anger with a moment of mindfulness can de-clutter the mind of unhealthy thoughts and perceptions. Boutte suggests starting this practice with someone who doesn't trigger off very strong emotions, perhaps someone at work rather than a family member. Done often enough and with persistence, the method will spill over to other people.

Please Press Mute

It's an absolute no-brainer that one should keep the smartphone away while interacting with someone, but it's still a common practice. Somehow, people convince themselves that a glance or two at that all-important phone screen won't be noticed. But they are mistaken.

If being liked by others is important, either personally or at work, it would be helpful to put the phone on silent mode before a focussed interaction with someone or a meeting.

Set up your phone so you have easy access to a mute button and avoid being pinged prominently by notifications on everything from Marks & Spencer's announcement of an end of season sale or your latest phone bill. If there's someone important you can't afford to lose touch with even for a few moments, put that person's number on the priority list, so calls and messages can still cut in. Otherwise, what you're telling the other person is that you can just about squeeze him or her in between tweets, or while answering emails.

For those who spend a lot of time online, every small interaction on one's device assumes greater importance than it merits. A Facebook post can wait; you can check how your picture is faring on Instagram later; news alerts can wait, because the impression you are creating on the other person will last forever.

 

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