Strange techniques to help you keep emotions in check

December 4th, 2008

I’m a pretty private person. The ‘Rhonda’ I take to work is not the same ‘Rhonda I let my friends and family see. At work, I prefer not to show my emotions. I may be a big marshmallow in my personal life, but at work I don’t want those tears to flow. I don’t want to lose my cool and I never want to look nervous.

In discussing this with seminar participants, I’ve realized that I’m not alone, and that many people would prefer to keep control of their emotions in professional (and other) situations.

These tips may seem a bit odd. They do, however, work. I’ve tried them all and give them my personal stamp of approval.


When I get very angry or frustrated I will often be on the brink of tears. This frustrates me even more because the last thing that I want to do is cry at work. Try taking your pointing finger and pushing upwards against the base of the septum (the divider) in your nose. It will look like you are trying to squash a sneeze, and it does work. It even works in highly emotional situations. Recently I was at a funeral where I wanted to hold it together. I know that it’s perfectly acceptable to cry at funerals, but I didn’t even know the deceased, so I wanted to stop those tears from falling. I took my finger and pushed upwards on my nose. It worked.


There is nothing worse than your heart beating at 100 miles an hour, your mouth going dry, and the look of a deer in the headlights on your face. We’ve all been there. You can reduce your body’s natural ‘flight-or-flight’ reaction by getting control of your breathing. When panic sets in, we tend to hold our breath. When that happens, concentrate on breathing through your left nostril and then (on the next breath) through your right nostril. This won’t be noticeable to someone looking at you, but it will work.

Throat tickle
Just when you want to disappear into the wallpaper, isn’t that when your throat gets a tickle? Short of clearing your throat (and drawing unwanted attention to yourself), there seems to be nothing you can do about it. Until now! Do the Carol Burnett ear pull. Pull downward on your lobe. If you are wearing earrings, this is easy enough to conceal. Not only does it take your attention away from your throat tickle, it clears your throat. And no, I don’t know why.

Keeping your cool

When someone is pushing your buttons, it can be hard to stay in control. One way to keep your cool is to not look directly into the person’s eyes. Try looking at the space between their eyes, instead. This allows you to remain focused. This technique also works when speaking to someone who is wearing mirrored sunglasses, or who has a wandering eye.

Nighttime problem-solving

I had one of these nights recently. You’re up for hours solving all the problems of the world. It usually starts with the thought that, “If I had only…”. Sometimes it is incredibly hard to fall back to sleep after you’ve relived a horrible moment you had in the office during the day. When this happens, try wiggling your toes. Most people cannot wiggle their toes without thinking about it. When you are thinking about wiggling your toes, you can’t worry about your co-worker or anything else for that matter, and you will fall asleep.

Toe-wiggling also works in other places and situations – and it really is effective. At the funeral I was telling you about, I also wiggled my toes so I could focus on what was being said, rather than on my brain saying, “Don’t cry!” Combined with the nose raise, it worked quite well. It also works when you are trying to keep your cool with a co-worker and not tell her what is really on your mind. Listen to what your co-worker is saying and concentrate on wiggling your toes. You won’t have any brain power left to worry about what you are going to say.

If you have something a little strange that I haven’t listed here, I would love to hear it. Please send an e-mail to my attention and if we get enough of them we’ll include them in a future e-mail with more strange techniques on keeping our emotions under control.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 4th, 2008 at 12:33 pm and is filed under How to Deal with Anger. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can trackback from your own site.

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