Ever Feel Like Flipping the Bird?


The title is exactly what it means.  If you don’t know, you can ask someone and I am sure they will show you exactly what it means and possibly laugh a little as they show you.

So, why would I pick such an edgy subject?

When organizations hire me to kick off or close out their conference, they know that my topic revolves around keeping a positive attitude. But in reality, my message revolves around developing and maintaining emotional management skills.  However, if I marketed my speeches with that title, I don’t think many people would pay attention or get excited about listening.  It just sounds boring from every angle.  So, I dress up the message with titles like, The Gift of Attitude, A Kick in the and RECHARGING Your Attitude For Success.  I take a broad and boring topic and add life and entertainment to deliver the goods or meat and potatoes.

Emotional management is how we manage our behaviors and attitude in the face of pressure, stress and crises. Some of our emotional management is made up from what we learned from our environment growing up.  And when we get out into the real world and on our own, our emotional management is made up by the influences we choose to impact our attitude and behavior.

So, let me share an example.  The other night, I was doing something I love to do – watching a football game.  It was Monday night football, the Cleveland Browns verse the Washington Redskins.  I am not going to mention any names or throw anyone under the bus, but out of frustration, the quarterback who was drafted in the first round and who has had a lot of hype flipped the opposing team the bird.

Why did he do it?
Was it for fun, for kicks and giggles?
Or did he do it because the pressure
and stress got to him?

He lacked the emotional management skills to be classy, stay poised and keep his game face on.  Instead, he showed how he responds under pressure.   At this point, I am glad the Vikings went with another QB in the first round.  Why you ask?  Because that would be embarrassing.  It does not make the team look good.  It’s a bad reflection on the coaching staff.  It doesn’t give the fans a positive expectation.  Do you get the picture?

Let’s take it to the workplace now.  What if a cashier got frustrated with a customer, and lacked those emotional management skills to deal with the situation properly?  What if they just did the first thing that came to mind, flip em the bird?  Let’s be real, we all have had moments we have felt like flipping the bird to someone.  Even my grandma who is the kindest lady you could ever meet, who loves God, goes to church, pays all her bills on time and buys girl scout cookies gets the urge to flip people the bird.

Let’s be honest about it.  Hey, I do!  But just because I feel like doing it doesn’t mean I follow through.  And as far as my grandma, I can’t answer for her, but I know one time at church she gave me the bird and I thought that was odd.  I am just kidding – she never did.  But, let’s be real about it, we have all been in a situation where someone pushed our buttons and we just wanted to give them the worst piece of our mind. Am I right?  Yeah I am.

Emotional management is responding in a way
that works best for you and the situation.

It does not mean you don’t want to unload a bucket full of not so happy thoughts and gestures, it just means you have the skills to calm your mind and respond with behaviors and attitudes that are not fueled with a boiling pot of water.

Equipping people with emotional management skills is the core of all my talks.  I want to empower people to make choices that benefit them and their organization.  It’s a fact that we are all going to have bad days, rough moments, negative people or that unexpected flat tire that rolls over our last nerve.  That is a given, but taking the time to develop your emotional management skills will save you a lot of regret, stress and negative consequences.

We have to learn from the moments that we didn’t handle things so well.  For example, have you ever had a conversation with someone and then without really thinking it through, just sat down at the computer and fired off a not so well thought out email. And the cherry on top is you took to your social media and posted the most ridiculous and crazy rants.

We have all been there, but the key to strengthening your emotional management skills, is to learn from what did not work for you.

Learn from others.  Anyone remember the Jet Blue flight attendant that got so frustrated with passengers, he grabbed a few cold beers, chugged them, got on the intercom and started yelling at everyone.  And his grand finale was pulling the emergency slide and going for a 2 second joy ride that would ultimately become national news and cost him his job, employment opportunities and land him in anger management and handful of other legal challenges.   Did he have the emotional management skills to handle the pressure that day?  No.  It doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good person, it just means his emotional management skills needed some refining.

Sometimes, I will see adults respond to situations like a 4 year old child and I often think, “How is that going to make things better for them or others?    How is that going to make their organization look good or resolve anything with effectiveness?”

The answer, it’s not.  So, even thought it sounds boring, working on emotional management skills is worth a little time and attention.  So, remember, the next time you hear me speak at a conference, you now know the undercover meaning or the real meat and potatoes to my stuff.   And you have to ask yourself, is emotional management a good thing for you?  Yes.   Is it a good thing for your organization?  Yes.  Life is always requiring us to make choices and respond, so why not work a little and practice implementing the right emotional responses that reward you.