Leon Steyn is a Public Speaker, Facilitator-Trainer, and international Author of Books and Articles that teach personal development skills and talent development at organizations.

How to control your response to provocation

You are having a bad, bad day. You overslept, spilt coffee, looked for your car keys, you get caught in a traffic jam and the access card reader at the parking garage is playing! Of all days! Grrmpf%$#@

Anyway, so you take hold of yourself, look into the rearview mirror, collect your belongings, get out of the car, close the door and breathe in for 4 counts and out for 7 counts (as we should). You pull back your shoulders, walk tall and breeze past reception with an air of friendly confidence, press the "2" on the elevator control panel, "ping", the door opens and you are in the elevator. Suddenly. With. Your. Arch rival. Grrmpf%$#@, one more time.

And what do they say to you with a destructive smile, "So, oversleep...again...did we?"

The rest is history.

You explode with volume, self-pity, pent-up anger and torrent of words strung together which, 10 minutes later, you can even remember. That is provocation and that is quite often how we respond to a provocation.

How can we better manage our response to provocation when we are already feeling vulnerable and not in top form? After all, we do not want to sabotage our own careers and be the reason for our own downfall; no way José!

Here are some tried and trusted tips which, with a bit of rehearsal and practise, will at least reduce the chance of you shooting yourself in the foot.

  1. Take a few seconds and clarify for yourself (frame) that you are actually being provoked - bearing in mind that even the provoker quite often does not intend to provoke.

  2. If you are certain that you are facing provocation, simply breathe deeply, smile and reply, " Yes, I did oversleep again and maybe I needed it" or develop your own provocation comeback. The surprise of a provocation catches us off-guard and then we lose control of the situation and then our emotions take over.

  3. Replay the scenario immediately after the event and determine if you can do anything differently the next time it happens. Remember though, when we are tired or miserable it is quite easy to fall into the trap.

To make it easier to remember, try memorising these 3 words: Clarify, Comeback, Improve or CCI.

By becoming an effective communicator, you will be seen as an efficient and good team member and you will grow your career and potential in leaps and bounds.

I help people how to be better communicators and I can help you too!

Simply send me an email to: with the subject line: What is your point, really? and I will be in touch in a jiffy and get you onto my next course.

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#communication #growth #career

Photo by Stillness InMotion on Unsplash

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