Picture this, you are making a presentation and the person you are speaking to says, “Well, that’s all very good, but we don’t have the money to pay for this.” Or, “You seem really excited about this but it won’t work in our organization.”
Pow! Can you hear the balloon of your enthusiasm popping? How do we stay engaged in the face of criticism? Often criticism takes us off our center. We might stop breathing; our mouth gets dry; we draw a blank. Or, if you are like me, the ticker tape of self criticism runs with comments like: “ I knew it was a bad idea; I shouldn’t have raised it; I didn’t do my homework.” Or the voice of the critic may go after our audience, “They don’t understand anything. They are clueless.” You know the rest.
What if you could hit the reset button as you continue the conversation? Here are four things to pay attention to in reset mode:
Reaffirm your vertical line, raising your torso from your belly, allowing energy to extend up and out from you like the branches of a tree.
Take a deep breath and give yourself permission to exhale a long, calming breath.
- Return to Center:
Momentarily interrupt eye contact with the person you are speaking with and drop your awareness briefly to your center. Now re-engage eye contact.
As you look up, use a soft eye gaze on the horizon line and include your conversation partner or your critic in the space around you. Remember, you are surrounded by space: above and below you, on either side of you, and in front and behind you. And now imagine that the criticism, lands in the space between you and your partner. Now hear this—that criticism— IT DOESN’T HAVE TO LAND ON YOU and pop your enthusiasm, it can land in the space between you, giving you more room to move, more options.
Attention to your posture, your breath and your center, reassures your limbic system that this momentary set back in a conversation is not a battle for your life. This gives the innovative, creative problem solving part of your brain a chance to kick in and come up with new options, new solutions.
Do try this at home! And start with low stakes. Start with smaller disagreements to get some practice so that you are building the conversation reset muscle and gain ready access to it. And don’t forget to try this technique with your inner critic too!
RESET = Posture, Breath, Center, Space.