Can You Keep Cool when Everything is Up in Flames?

It is ironic that the White House head of communications Anthony Scaramucci is the poster boy for how not to deal with the media. He displayed remarkably low emotional intelligence (EQ) during his short ten day tenure. He was actually out before he was in. How did he do that and what are some tips to avoiding the trap he fell into? The biggest single lesson is to be very careful about what you say or do in a lower mood state. That’s when you say something to a loved one or write an email you wish you could take back. Scaramucci’s buttons were pushed, he lost his emotional control and communicated like a vulgar teenager.

So how do you avoid that? You learn to intelligently ride the Mood Elevator in life. We are our best selves on the higher floors when we are centered. We feel curious not judgmental, confident not insecure, understanding not angry. Most everything we say and do when in that state is wise, thoughtful and believable. But watch out when you drop to the lower floors of the Mood Elevator especially those with intensity like anger, self-righteousness or depression because your thinking is almost always unreliable. You say and do things that get you in trouble like Scaramucci did.

Use your feelings as you guide. Excessive intensity is almost always a sign you have headed south and your thinking is not clear. When you feel most compelled to say something to someone don’t. Just pause take a deep breath and calm down. You’ll probably say it different if you do.

Those who communicate best with the media…

  • Keep their cool especially under fire.
  • Don’t get sucked in. They become curious observers, perhaps even amused by the strange thinking of others
  • Don’t take things personally but understand others have agendas and different lens through which they see the world and that’s OK. Its just their point of view
  • Are as authentic and open as they possibly can be.

About Larry Senn

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Dr. Larry Senn is the founder of Senn Delaney, the culture shaping unit of Heidrick & Struggles. He has been referred to in business journals as the father of corporate culture, based on his field research: the first systematic study ever conducted on the concept of corporate culture.

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