Lack of interpersonal skills can be a career crusher. A deleterious emotional state can have serious ramifications on the way you think and process information, and of course, it also affects the way others relate to you. Are you confident and calm when dealing with high-stakes, or high-stress conversations? It’s something many people struggle with due to various reasons such as differences of opinion, competing priorities, contrasting frames of references, misunderstandings or tension from past conflicts that shrouds your judgment.
Attaining alignment with another — with emotional composure and resiliency — is indispensable when developing and maintaining relationships. The good news is that there are several practices and techniques you can learn to help you regulate your emotions. One of these foundational skills is mindfulness.
Mindfulness refers to an awareness of what is happening emotionally — right here, right now — within your body and mind.
It can be practiced through a powerful meditative process called mindfulness meditation. It is specifically designed to provide you the strength to be more mindful when the occasion dictates, such as when you are in a high stress, high impact conversation. When it is practiced regularly, it is easier to go from being highly reactive to a more stable and productive state of being.
Try this five-minute mindfulness meditation exercise several times a week. With practice you’ll begin to exude calm reassurance and confidence in any situation:
Minute 1: Rest your hands on the tops of your thighs with your legs hip-distance apart and your feet flat on the floor. Relax your eyelids, allowing your gaze to soften and rest unfocused. Breathe deeply, inhaling through the nose and then exhaling through pursed lips, like you are gently letting the air out of a balloon. Inhale for a count of six then exhale for a count of seven.
Minute 2: Stop counting and allow your breathing to fall into a natural and easy rhythm. Pay attention to what your breaths feel like — not overly deep or shallow — and compare that with your usual cadence. Tune into the rising and falling sensation in your body from your belly to your shoulders.
Minute 3: Continue to be aware of your breathing. If random thoughts (work tasks, errands, deadlines) pop into your head, do not push them out or linger on them. Instead, imagine each one as a harmless cloud floating on by. This helps you to acknowledge the thoughts and pre-occupations of the mind without responding to them emotionally. If a thought still doesn’t drift away from your mind, take a few seconds to acknowledge it then gently return your focus to your breath. If this occurs again, just repeat the process without judgment or reaction. They are just clouds floating by our field of awareness.
Minute 4: Release your focus and simply sit. Remind yourself that there is nothing to fix, nothing to do and nothing to change.
Minute 5: Think about something you are grateful for, such as spending time with friends or even having the chance to meditate in that moment. Then gradually transition your thoughts to how you feel physically; the relaxed state of your muscles and the steadiness of your heartbeat. Open your eyes, take one deep breath in — and then out.
Emotional connections are the building blocks that support commitment and trust. Strong emotional regulation skills are vital in building and nurturing relationships. Mindful meditation can help you achieve a more balanced and grounded presence — freeing you from stress and impulsive emotions.