Four Steps to Manage your Mood in Meetings

Ever sat in a meeting and felt frustrated, bored or irritable?  Wouldn’t it be better if instead you felt relaxed, curious and energised?  You can’t control what others say and do in meetings, but you can control your own responses, affect how you feel and influence other people.

Here are four steps for managing the moods that can hijack you in meetings.

Be aware of what’s happening in your body – are your shoulders raised, your stomach clenched, your jaw fixed and your breathing shallow?  Body and mind are linked, so the first step in getting into a more positive mental state is to manage your physical responses.  Drop your shoulders, relax your stomach and jaw, and do half a dozen slow breaths deep into the abdomen.  You will immediately feel more relaxed.

Then tune in to what else is happening in your body.  Do you feel hungry or thirsty?  Do you need a comfort break?  Are you too cold or too hot?  Is your chair uncomfortable?  Emotions sometimes come from a physical cause according to Dr Lisa Feldman Barrett.  If so, give your body what it needs – get up, move about, stretch, get something to eat or drink.

Check the 3Ps – is the meeting still on track to achieve its Purpose?  Are the Processes for discussion and decisions being followed working?  And are the Personalities in the room working well together?  If not, take some action to get people back on track.  Having an impact will make you feel better.

Finally, use the zig-zag problem-solving model* to move things forward.  In the topic being discussed, is attention being paid to all four points of the Z?  What are the facts?  What are the options? What are the pros and cons? What is the impact on people?

We naturally gravitate to one or two of the four corners – paying more attention to and spending more time on these aspects. This can lead to conflict with other people who place more importance on the other aspects.

The zig-zag structure gets the meeting back on track.

Using it ensures all aspects are covered, everyone’s perspective is considered and it creates momentum to move the discussion to a conclusion.

I used this model with a senior management team, who were getting stuck in entrenched positions when discussing a possible office relocation – it enabled them to consider aspects they had previously ignored, allowed some managers to say what had previously been unsayable, and they reached a workable agreement on how to move ahead.  Simple and effective.

*this is based on the zig-zag model taught as part of MBTI® training, where the points of the Z correspond to the preferences for Sensing, Intuition, Thinking and Feeling.