Be the Adult in the Room

When we tell someone to “grow up” it is usually in response to one or many of his/her immature emotional cadenzas.

By contrast, great leaders are viewed as effective when they maintain a positive emotional state, handle pressure well, are responsive rather than reactive (hit the brakes on unruly emotions), and are not easily provoked. In other words, they demonstrate maturity and good judgement.

In an interview with Oprah First Lady Michelle Obama gave a clear description of how to respond to biting and unfair criticism. She described it as making a choice to be the adult in the room with the recognition that

  1. It’s not about you.

Often others repeat hurtful things about us that are grossly inaccurate and patently unfair. These are characterizations of who we really are. Many times a “hot button” issue has been excited in them and they react to us in ways that reenact their own past hurts. Most of our critics, including our own inner judge, grossly misrepresent who we really are.

Action: Depersonalize the negativity

  1. When they go low you go high. 

This statement became one of the most used recent campaign slogans. And even though it may have lost its impact through frequent use,  our baser urge to “jump into the swamp with the alligators” needs to be countered with expressing the “better angels of our nature”. Self-regulation is a mature choice.

Action: Choose the best and not the base.

  1. Forget and move on.

I find that rumination over past hurts is one of the more corrosive habits of the mind where the mentality of “they punch me and I punch back” prevails. Instead, the power of “forgiving and forgetting” is a course correction for past wounds. Not that we actually erase these incident from our memories but we learn to detach from them so as to defuse them.

See my blog on Forgiveness

Action: Lick your wounds and move on

Life is so much more satisfying and productive (and political discourse is more fruitful) when we response from our mature adult self.

Your Story

 Please share an incident where you chose to respond from your adult self.

About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
This entry was posted in Maturity, self restraint, behaving like an adult, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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