Alexandra & Associates

Power Bytes

September 2010









This Power Byte was created after a conversation with a client who was upset with her boss. It was something he said. 


We were fortunate to have time together immediately following the incident.


Her story was compelling.  Not only hadn't she been acknowledged and given thanks for all she had done while he was on vacation, she had been made wrong for other people's lack of action.   Unbelievable!  Unacceptable!  How awful! She had every right to be upset.


After a little exploration it became clear to both of us that even before her boss had walked into her office, she was holding a grudge because she hadn't been acknowledged for going above and beyond during his absence. She really was an explosion waiting to happen. 


So, her boss came into her office and said something negative and critical. It triggered her. She stopped hearing him.  She didn't check it out - didn't get clear about what he was really saying and what he meant by it.


Did she get triggered because she hadn't been acknowledged? Or was it an early childhood incident of criticism and lack of acknowledgment that was actually being triggered?  (To the mind everything is the same as everything else - except not always).


Think about the last time you had a strong emotional reaction to what someone said to you.  When did you actually stop "hearing" what they were saying?  Did you react to your interpretation or ask questions to be sure about what the person was saying? 



Some years ago my boss came into my office to inform me that he had asked one of our team to be a partner in the organization.  Of course, being one of the senior people on staff, I was already upset that he hadn't asked me. I asked "why not me?" and his explanation made sense.  I agreed with his decision, but wanted to know why he hadn't had this conversation with me before taking the action as had been the way of our business relationship.  He said,


"Because I didn't trust you?" 


 I freaked!  Didn't trust me?  I was known for my integrity - could always be trusted! After knowing me so long, how could he possibly not trust me? A land mine had been triggered and was getting ready to explode. I was trained, so had the presence of mind to check it out, and say, "What do you mean by that?"  He said,

"I didn't trust that you wouldn't get emotional and I didn't want to have to deal with the emotion."  



Well that was about me.  Now back to my client.  She didn't ask questions. What she did was instantly withdraw.


In fact, he had walked into her office to let her know how annoyed he was with others for not supporting her, causing her to have too much on her plate.  He was expressing criticism of them, and concern for her - and she heard it as criticism of her.


Those of you who don't withdraw will go to anger and attack instead (fight or flight).


The cost is significant.  Every one of my clients has said that until the upset is cleared up they are not in full power.  They admit that productivity and performance are negatively impacted. 


No matter how transformed and evolved we become, we are still human beings with history and land mines just waiting to explode.  It's true that with experience and awareness, some of the land mines are destroyed, never to explode on us again - but I can assure you that even after over 30 years of cleaning out those land mines, I still have some that are waiting innocently for the trigger that will cause them to explode. 


And Bob (my honey) would admit that any request I make for him to slow down or put more space between him and the car ahead of him when I become anxious is heard as a criticism of his driving (not a need of mine) and he explodes in CAPITAL LETTERS.


It is clear to me that when something occurs that triggers an emotional reaction, that reaction comes from an instant (and often unconscious) interpretation of what happened and what it means based on an incident from our past.


I know your commitment is to be all you can be - a successful unique and powerful human being.  Now is the time to learn to interrupt you automatic reactions, particularly the ones that are getting in your way. diminishing your results and damaging your relationships with others.   




If you're ready to be effective instead of being right, contact me to check out the possibility of coaching.







       When an event occurs, the first thing you do is observe.


       Next, you begin to make up a story about the observations.  The story you make up is "the truth" as far as you're concerned.  Sometimes this happens so quickly that you don't realize it's happening.


       When you've finished telling the story, you've created your emotions.  These emotions show up instantly - automatically.


       Your story can reflect what happened (the facts) as much as it can your insecurities, your fears, your doubts, your history, and so on.  Rarely is the story merely an account of the facts. 


       It's important to retrace your steps along the path if the feelings you are having and the actions you are about to take will not support you in succeeding - in fulfilling the future you are committed to. 


       You may discover that your story is possibly just that, a story,  and you need more information before taking appropriate action.



Think of a situation that left you feeling badly.  Try to get at the thinking behind each feeling by asking the question, "What conclusions did I draw that caused me to feel this way?" 


In one column list your emotions.  In the second, your thoughts.  (Observations and conclusions I drew that caused these emotions.)


Next think of some other ways you could have interpreted the situation?  List the alternative thoughts in one column.  Then think of the emotions that the alternative thoughts might have generated.



Emotions:  Don't act them out. Own them, understand them and alter them.


Own the fact that you created them because of the conclusions you drew and the stories you told yourself.


Understand the path you walked and the story you told yourself that gave those emotions to you.


Alter them by telling yourself a different story, drawing different conclusions, and causing different emotions.


I Leave You With This...

Alexandra Marcovitch
Alexandra & Associates
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