Helping leaders emerge


Show Up as Your Best Self: How to Develop a Thicker Skin!

Recently I coached an executive on how to engage with a senior board member who was known for being rude, verbally abrasive, and overly critical. In particular, my client was concerned about an upcoming board meeting in which he was presenting because this aggressive individual would be attending.

We discussed how a plan of action that included a positive mindset, preparation, and a shift in behavior could go a long way in helping my client show up as his best self.

Here’s what we came up with:

Be prepared: Take the time to prepare yourself for a difficult meeting.  Think through a worst case scenario, explore different strategies for responding, choose one or two, and write it out so you know that it’s there. This will help you be more proactive (versus reactive) in how you engage and show up for this particular situation. By simply preparing for a potentially confrontational conversation, you will be able to remain more confident, grounded, and calm.

Flex your style: Clients often struggle with colleagues who have a more direct and challenging communication style. When communicating with someone who has a direct style – be clear, specific, and to the point. Stick to business by providing facts and figures. Be bright, be brief, be gone.

Use the “Know, Feel, Do” model: What is the content you want them to know? How do you want them to feel? And what’s the call to action? And while this individual may still give you a hard time, at least you’ve done your part walking in with a well thought out and focused message.

Know your strengths: If you’re struggling with confidence (and let’s be honest who isn’t?) take inventory of your natural abilities and accomplishments – write them down and refer to it when you need a boost.

Pause before your react: You don’t need to respond right away. Give yourself time to clear your head: take a deep breath, ground yourself by feeling your feet and touching the floor, and count to ten.

Take the balcony view: Be a third-party observer in your own movie. By having a bit of distance, you will be able to remain more detached and ultimately, show up more confident, grounded, and calm.

Have a heart: While it may feel counterintuitive, having compassion for a difficult individual may help you manage your own triggers and approach the situation a little differently. Someone who shows up rude or abrasive is suffering. Think about how difficult it must be for this person to spend time with him or herself.

Choose curiosity over control: What can you learn from this situation? What new skills are you developing? How will this experience inform how you show up as a leader? In the future, how might you mentor someone else in a similar situation?

Give meditation a chance: A regular meditation practice will improve your mental clarity and reduce the intensity and recovery time of stressful emotional triggers.

Maintain a sense of humor: You might as well have a little fun? Share your story with a funny friend – and have a good laugh about it. What’s the alternative?

Reward yourself: Go ahead, you deserve it! Remember life is to be enjoyed. Once you’ve survived the challenging situation, indulge in self-care, or even a little retail therapy.  A massage or nice meal can replenish and reenergize.

Meditating with a Sense of Humor! (courtesy of Jack Kornfield)