Route to the top: Seven ways to keep your cool

How to keep your head when the red mist descends...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Consider the cost benefits.
Those skilled at self-control aren't just more popular than their fiery colleagues, they're more successful too. In a study of partners at a management consultancy, the biggest difference in profitability lay in their levels of self-control. Lash out or cash in? The choice is yours.

Identify the source.
If your control-freak MD leaves you fuming, launch a pre-emptive strike. Schedule a meeting at the start of each project to agree when, where and how he or she will provide input. They'll be a lot less infuriating when you're working on your terms.

Imagine the consequences.
Your colleague smugly highlights an error in the hefty report you've just completed. Before you let them have it ('Who asked you? Can't you keep your opinions to yourself for once?'), fast-forward a week. The prospect of frosty silences and no partner for the high-profile pitch should be enough to hold you back.

Talk to the page.
Expressing our emotions on paper makes us more self-aware and less likely to lash out. Keep a diary of your thoughts and feelings every day for a month and achieve Gandhi-like calm.

Stop digging.
Douglas McKenna, organisational psychologist and key instigator of Microsoft's executive development group, cures fiery CEOs by finding a pattern to their anger: 'Something has to trigger it,' he says, 'a particular concern, person or time of day.' Identify situations that make you angry and avoid them.

Look for the best.
When the red mist descends, try to find a positive explanation for the other person's behaviour. 'Our client is shouting at us not because they are a bully, but because they're panicked about their bleak projected figures.'

Run, punch a cushion, rant.
Do whatever it takes to calm the beast. Just don't do it at work.

The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99 -

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