How to Keep Your Cool During Heated Meetings

As a leader, it’s not always easy to keep your cool during meetings.

Sometimes, you end up saying something that other people don’t like. You get feedback that says you’re wrong or that you’re not doing your job properly

And in times like these, it can easily feel like you’re being attacked. While it’s not likely that you’re actually in any physical danger, your nervous system will act like you are. 

It will begin to register the threat, and your fight-or-flight instincts can very quickly take over.

Emotions will come into play, and the meeting will head in a direction you’ll soon regret. 

So, how can you ensure you don’t end up down that path if such an event arises?  

This article suggests 4 ways to keep your cool during heated meetings. 

Here we go:

1. Stay in Your Body, Not Your head

Rather than letting the emotions of the moment take over, remain in perspective of what you’re actually doing. 

You’re not in the meeting to prove who’s right or wrong or who’s the smartest in the company. Instead, you’re probably there to resolve a budget, get a message across, or find a joint solution. 

So, don’t take things too personally. Instead, “zoom out;” begin to feel your feet on the ground. Take note of art on the walls or the size of the room. You can even just focus on your breathing. 

The basic idea is that want to let your instincts take over and then built up with emotions in your head. Rather, you want to bring your focus to the physical self in order to stay calm.

2. Imagine That the Words Aren’t Directed at You, but Instead, the Bigger Picture

Now that you’ve zoomed out of the situation, you can imagine that feedback is not coming directly at you, but instead, towards the bigger picture and the goal of the company.

And since everyone is working towards the same mission, the feedback doesn’t just have to fall onto you. Rather, you can all look at it together.

3. Reply with Curiosity

Dr. Stephen Covey, the author of the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” 

When someone shares information that you weren’t previously aware of, seek to gauge a greater understanding of the issue before offering a solution.

4. Take a Walk 

If all else fails, and you’re still not ready to reply in a way that you’ll be proud of, then take a walk.

However, before bringing the meeting to a close, commit to returning.

Say something like: 

“I understand what you’re saying, and I’d like to discuss it with you further. However, I’m not in the headspace to give you my best self right now. Can we come back to this at 10 a.m. tomorrow?