Tips On How To Express Yourself Without Losing Your Shit

Tips On How To Express Yourself Without Losing Your Shit
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Joe Hart (lead image) is an organisational psychologist and founder of True Perspective, a leadership development practice. He’s also the author of True Perspective (Hambone Publishing $27.99). In this guest post, Hart offers expert tips on how to communicate properly without losing your lollie…

We’ve all been taught to be ‘professional’, ‘polite’, ‘nice’, and ‘respectful’ to the point that we are not expressing ourselves honestly most of the time. This suppression of expression has been exacerbated by the minefield of political correctness causing people to second guess what they are allowed to say. So, we end up suppressing all of it until we can’t contain the pressure anymore and explode or worse, completely withdraw. This matters for everyone because not appropriately dealing with your stressors at work has significant consequences for your wellbeing and productivity.

As an executive coach people often ask me ‘What’s the most common problem people want your help to solve? My answer, helping them express themselves honestly. At work, this looks like communicating what you expect, want, and need which is the same strategy I use for someone experiencing issues at home. After all, work and home are more integrated than ever before, so one necessarily affects the other.

If you want to be known as an effective leader who communicates well, you’ve got to focus on getting your message right. This means making sure you are fully expressing yourself without losing your sh!t.

Before jumping into delivery headfirst, ask yourself “How do I want to be experienced?”. By stepping outside of yourself you instantly become more self-aware and are better able to determine if you are behaving in alignment with your intention. A few things I recommend you do to stay on track are:

1) Take a moment to evaluate your physiological state. If you’re all stressed and wired, your message will be drowned out by the corticosteroids coursing through your veins. If your body isn’t right, people will pick up on it straight away instantly raising the ‘red flag’. Do what you can to get centred and present so your message will be heard. There are a thousand things you could do such as take a brisk walk, meditation, try to juggle three balls, strike a yoga pose etc.

2) The context plays an incredibly important role in how your message is delivered and received. A formal message may lose its impact if delivered on a park bench. Conversely, a heartfelt discussion may be lost in the formality of a boardroom. Make sure that you put some thought into the environment and how it will influence the interpretation of your message.

3) The relationship you have with the person receiving the message is also a critical consideration. A family member will evoke a different emotion from a boss. Equally, a person that you don’t like will evoke a different emotion from a person that you enjoy spending time with. Your message will always be influenced by the strength of the bond you share with the receiver, take a moment to reflect on how this is contributing to your emotional state.

4) Notice what you are telling yourself. Whatever you are telling yourself becomes a prelude to what happens next. Too often we invest so much energy in a pre-emptive determination of an outcome, which usually represents the outcome we don’t want. Instead, invest your energy in the outcome you DO want to increase the likelihood of your message being received openly.

As a final thought, I want you to acknowledge that if you are reading this, then you are human. We all experience those moments where everything gets a bit too much, we are overwhelmed by life’s challenges and we will inevitably lose our sh!t. Rather than beat yourself up about it, take the time to reflect on how people experienced you during your tirade. Notice how you felt in your body, recognise the impact it had on your relationships and consider the context you were in at the time it all blew up. Finally, identify what you were telling yourself before it all went pear-shaped. What you tell yourself is the secret that will unlock the mystery behind why you don’t feel heard. Solve this riddle and I guarantee you’ll be able to express yourself without losing your sh!t.

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Joe Hart

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