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Better Relationships? Take A Time Out.


According to the article “Mastering Your Mind” (Psychology Today, Sept/Oct 2006, pg 76) lag time between provocation, impulse and reaction to stimulus is shorter then a heartbeat – just a quarter of a second between the stimulus and the reaction of your amygdule, also known as the fear center.  In a short period of time our emotions can trump our judgment and they often do.  How to recognize the spark before the flame erupts, is the key to maintaining control.

If you want to develop and establish more rewarding relationships you need to learn how to suspend judgment by taking a time out.  When we handle our emotions in a less than appropriate manner, we put a big strain on our relationships.  Oh, how easy it is to judge someone else’s actions without knowing anything about the situation or where someone is coming from.  Reacting in a non-supportive way, can have both short and/or long term consequences.  In long-term relationships it is easy to fall into patterns of behavior and get into situations where we automatically react, rather than taking a time out, suspending judgment and responding to the situation.  The illustration below shows what happens when we react to a situation and allow our emotions to get the better of us versus when we respond, taking a little time to think first speak and act later.

We cannot avoid certain feelings; however, we can avoid inappropriate behavior by training ourselves to take a time out.  We accomplish this by exercising our self-awareness, and by practicing empathy.  It takes, what is referred to in the book “Influencer” (Patterson, et al), discipline practice.  There is a large pay off in managing our behavior by being aware of our emotions.  It is worth the effort.  Be aware of your triggers.  Use your self-awareness to understand when a stimulus causes a reaction and channel the energy into a time out to give you the ability to respond and build harmonious relationships, stronger friendship and trust with the people who are important to you.

Carpe diem,
James R. Dawson
Managing Partner, ADI Performance

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