This week I have been working on a revision to one of my training modules to reflect a client’s need and having enjoyed a spectacular start to the weekend with the men’s final at Wimbledon…I have been prompted to think about positive emotional control in the most extreme situations of stress and tension.

Now drawing sporting analogies to business or work scenarios is, in my book, a dangerous thing. At best you end up sounding pompous and at worst you just end up dragging up a load of old clichés. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had the privilege of hearing several sportsmen and women talk about their profession and draw links to positive thinking in the everyday and business world around us. Done well you can see where they’re coming from and yes, draw relevant parallels to your own life. Done badly you’re left thinking well…is preparing for my next important client meeting really the same as the training programme for an Olympic athlete?

But back to Wimbledon and what prompted my thoughts….I’ve been focusing on Emotional State Control this week for a client this is how being in control of your emotions is essential to manage conflict situations effectively. So understanding your triggers for fear and/or loss of emotional control are part of the process of learning how to control them so that no matter what situation you are in, whether you feel threatened or angered yourself, you always retain control of your emotions. This then supports you in being a really good communicator (see my P.O.L.I.T.E model on my website for more information). So I was watching Novak Djokovic and waiting to see if he would lose his temper like he did in the semi’s against Baghdatis where he smashed his racket three times in a rage. I was thinking surely it must be obvious to see it coming…here he is centre stage, immense pressure, everything riding on the match….could I see it either coming or him trying to control it? There are clues….facial expressions, where the eyes focus, breathing techniques…but put yourself in an everyday situation without the benefits of a camera close up and an obviously extreme situation and can you read the clues as easily?

It’s difficult which is why being in control of your own emotional state is so important so that if you suddenly find yourself in a situation with conflict or violence you are in control of your emotions and are ready to react effectively. You can anchor an emotional state by using one of your visual, auditory or kinesthetic cues. This is line with the NLP way of thinking. For instance, playing a certain type of music that makes you feel a certain way is an example of an auditory anchor but. This may be more difficult if a situation unexpectedly confronts you, but with practice you can become quicker at gaining control. If you are clever you can stack anchors to make it a really powerful exercise. All you need to do is think about a time when you felt good, the emotional state you were in, the confidence, control and calmness you felt and then pull on that memory to anchor control of your emotions.
All easier said than done of course which is why practice makes perfect or as I like to think. Practice makes permanent – if you practice something wrong you can get good at doing it wrong. Which is one unarguable lesson every business practice can learn from the sporting world.