#104 | How to not freak out when speaking to your boss or person of power
Butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, shaky hands, and in its extreme feeling like you are going to throw up. Does this sound like the symptoms you have when you have to speak to the ‘big boss’ or a person in power?
This is a unconscious reaction, and has a lot to do with the way your brain works. Your amygdala is continually looking out for threat – this happens 5 times every second! It is not only make decision about physical threat, it is also making a decision about social threat. Imaging of the brain shows that physical threat and social threat lights up the same regions of the brain.
3 Reasons why you feel at threat
There are many potential reasons why you are triggered and feel at threat. I am going to unpack 3 reasons why this happens, and then give you 4 strategies to help you get the nerves under control.
So lets get started with the 3 reasons why this happens. These reasons are from the SCARF model created by David Rock.
Subconsciously you may feel less than your boss. When you feel inferior to others, or you think your opinion won’t matter, it can trigger a threat response.
Or you may also feel a loss of control. That your boss is about to constrain the way you are working and give you more directive way of doing things, wanting it done his or her way.
You may also be subconsciously worried about the future. There could be a lot going on in business which creates uncertainty about your future. Your boss also has the power to fire you – so when there is significant change in the environment, this could be also playing on your mind.
4 Strategies to stop you freaking out
So now that we have explored all the reasons why you should freak out when speaking to your boss, lets now look at the ‘so what’. The so what can you do about it?
One of the first strategies I recommend is to write it down. Write down how you are feeling, and then write out dot points on what you want to say to your boss. If the meeting is set by your boss, and you are not sure of what the discussion will be about – ask for an agenda, so that you can prepare.
The second strategy is practice it. Once you have written down the dot points you want to cover – practice speaking to the dot points. Record your practice session so that you can play it back and improve on what you are saying.
The third strategy is to visualise it going well ahead of time. Do this a few times leading up to the meeting, particularly if you are very nervous. Research shows simply visualising the positive change can invoke the same change as the actual experience.
The final strategy is when you actually start talking to your boss is slow it down. Slow down the first few sentences intently, and take a deep breath after the first few sentences. Often, when we are nervous, we tend to talk faster. By going into the conversation with intent, in a slow way, it helps get the heart rate under control and sets the pace for a calmer, less rushed conversation.
So in summary, I have covered 3 reasons why you freak out when speaking to the boss or someone in a position of power
And given you 4 strategies to stop you freaking out which are:
1. Write it down
2. Practice it
3. Visualise it
4. Slow it down