Joni Daniels

Will You Fight of Take Flight?

We all have an internal sense that there is a binary choice when confronted with a threat or an uncomfortable situation. This is known as the fight or flight response.  When feeling threatened by people or things that create a sense of danger, we choose to fight and take on the threat or depart – to live another day.

The co-worker who insults and bullies their way through conversations and situations can viewed as a threat to our peace of mind.  A boss who berates members of the team regularly to prove his or her point in team meetings can cause us to feel nauseous about the climate they are creating at work and the concern over the possibility that we might be their next target. As creatures with nervous systems triggered by a pituitary gland that has been honed by thousands of years of evolution, whether we are gearing up for a battle or looking for the nearest exit – those feelings are bound to cause a physiological reaction.

However, your choice of being proactive or reactive, can positive or negatively change the trajectory of your career as well as your heart rate.

Granted, there will be risks associated with your choice, whatever it may be. When you were younger and you spoke your mind at home or in elementary school, if it meant that you and your siblings were grounded or the whole class had to go without recess, you learned about consequences. You may not have been the most popular kid that week, but you chose to take a stand.  The more educated, thoughtful, and strategic you are about the risk, the better you can create a plan of action that is most beneficial for you.

Below are a few tips that I use to help frame up the situation for the best outcome possible.  Choosing just one can help you successfully navigate uncomfortable conversations and situations:

When the impulse to fight or flee comes on, that actual moment can be measured in nanoseconds.  Develop the habit of pausing and take a deep breath before speaking (S.A. Suck Air). You can’t talk when inhaling and the pause allows you to remember your strategy and the words or actions you want to use at this moment.  Be intentional when deciding whether to stay or go.