The manager called her at home and offered to mediate a meeting between Jessica and her supervisor. As Jessica recounted this story to me, she said proudly that she refused to attend the meeting. She couldn’t stand the supervisor and told her boss’s boss that she would not even sit in the same room as her supervisor much less talk to her.
So, Jessica lost her job.
Here we were, months later, Jessica was still out of work, and she told that story with pride. You can hear the “I showed them” intonation of her voice.
So, I asked her how she felt about what she had done. Of course, she was proud. In Jessica’s mind, it was a victory because she stood her ground. She didn’t let the supervisor or the manager get the best of her.
I followed up with another question. I smiled and asked her how many bills could she pay with that pride? Would they accept it as payment in the grocery store or at the gas station? She was speechless.
Jessica is still riding off the high of the emotional victory. Yet, the reality of her situation tells a different story. She might have ‘showed them’ but they still have jobs. They can still meet their financial obligations. They aren’t out there pounding the pavement in the worst job market that many of us have seen in our lifetimes.
Emotions are powerful and intense and necessary. A life without a mixture of happiness, sadness, passion, laughter and even a little anger or righteous indignation wouldn’t be much of a life. But, we have to learn how to effectively harness the power of our feelings. If we don’t, we can end up jobless and/or alone.
Taking back things said and done during moments of intense emotion is about as difficult as putting toothpaste back in the tube. It isn’t going to work.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your cool, when your emotions start to heat up:
Leave: When possible remove yourself from the situation. Even if you can just spend five minutes in the bathroom or in your car, step away.
Bite Your Tongue: Don’t respond with anger, sarcasm or condescension. The best thing to do is to not say anything until you calm down.
Vent to a Disinterested Party: Vent to someone who has absolutely nothing to do with the situation or the people involved. Venting to family and co-workers just puts the rumor mill into overdrive and increases the chances for hurt feelings, confusion and manipulation.