The working world can be a minefield of egos, and people that we wouldn’t normally choose to associate with. Spending 40+ hours with someone that makes us feel uncomfortable or uneasy is tricky, particularly when they’re the boss!
Now I’m all for you being your own boss, and escaping the 9-5, but I also realise that it’s also a case of doing the day job to make the side job fly.
In my previous career in journalism and television, dealing with big egos went with the territory and sometimes a correspondent seemed to enjoy being the bully. As a young, and not so young reporter, I realised that you had to stand up to the bullies, but saying and doing wasn’t always the easiest.
The way you stand, and how you carry your self – your physiology – is so important to putting yourself in the right frame of mind to handle the bully. Stand tall and breathe deeply and inhale fully into the lungs. Often we’re so panicked we forget to breathe, or take these short breaths that don’t give us enough energy to finish a sentence, and get the blood pumping. So breathe deeply, and your body relaxes as it receives more oxygen, and you immediately feel more confident.
Studies show that at least 55 percent of our communication is non-verbal… so that means your posture and attitude really does shine through before you even open your mouth. Look up and ahead, it keeps those shoulders back and immediately gives off a confident, no messing attitude.
Remembering to pause and breathe will also help you to stay calm. When you are being logical, you are using the “thinking” part of the brain – the cortex, and this is great when you are calm and conscious.
But when things go wrong, in moments in stress, anxiety, fear, or panic, and our logical brain is overridden by our limbic brain, our “cave (wo)man” brain. This is the part of our brain that functions in times of stress and activates the “fear or flight” syndrome when we either stay and get hit by the oncoming car, or run. Our cave woman ancestors used it successfully manoeuvre through life. The stress was a marauding animal about to attack us and our children, and our limbic brain would sense the danger and trigger adrenaline and we would RUUUUUUNNN!
Now our stress is that meeting that we are a bit intimidated by, or a problem at work, or a difficult boss. The stress is very real, and in the stressful situation, our cavewoman brain kicks in. This limbic brain operates in a prehistoric way, and isn’t as advanced as our logical cortex brain. Instead of rationally thinking things through, we panic, and we feel we either have to metaphorically pick up the stick to defend our self and the project, or we freeze and shrink before we have a chance to logically think about it.
By breathing deeply, you give yourself a moment to remain calm, and in the PRESENT. Staying in this space will enable you to put your best self forward, and give a non-verbal indicator to the bully that you’re not intimidated.
If you struggle with breathing, I find yoga really helps. It enables you to learn to breathe, and helps you to stay calm.
If you have a big meeting, go to the toilet beforehand and make yourself as BIG AS POSSIBLE. By occupying as much space metaphorically, you feel bigger, and more confident. Just stretch out, and stand tall and say to yourself… I CAN DO THIS!!!
And when you’re in control, your body language will say: “don’t mess with me”, rather than “ooooh dear, let’s hide.” When your predatory boss senses that this prey is not for taking, they will back off, and leave you alone.
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