True autonomy and choice comes when we are free of our own automatic responses.—Krishnamurti (an Indian philosopher and spiritual teacher)
It is when we are under stress that we are most likely to lose control of our emotions and release an automatic behavioural response that we immediately regret. This is when those responses own you, rather than you owning them. When we own them, we see them coming and can decide whether to act on them or not. Knowing what triggers your stress, and stepping back, taking a breath or two, and making sure you are in control of yourself is an important strategy when engaged in difficult conversations with others. Our automatic responses fall into one of three types, depending on our individual personality and temperaments.
- Some of us flight (hide out and avoid, when we should be moving into the fray.)
- Some of us fight (lash out, dominate, don’t listen, and bully our way into winning in the conversation)
- Some of us fix (this is the sucking up behaviour where we become the pleaser, the placater, even if we don’t like what is happening.
The Hogan HDS survey codifies our potential derailing behaviours when under stress, in the above 3 categories. Knowing what these are will help us see them when they are rising in us, and choose to get back to centre so that this automatic response doesn’t derail our relationship and erode trust between you and your important working relationships.