Do you know that Google has a feature for Gmail – “Undo Send”? Once you hit "Send" Gmail holds the email for five seconds, during which time you can stop the email from going out.
What's interesting is that, apparently, a five-second pause is all most people need to realize they've made a mistake.
What about a real life? When you meet somebody in person or on the phone? Unfortunately there is no “Undo Send” button.
Spilt water can't be gathered. Said words won’t turn back. Though, we try to undo send. But we can’t. People tend to remember…
What can we do instead?
How about avoiding the unproductive "Send" in the first place?
1-2-3-4-5 seconds, maybe its enough to avoid additional stress of beating ourselves up for what have we said or how have we reacted?
Perhaps that's all we need to avoid making the mistake. Five tiny seconds.
What science says?
When we are angry ready to yell at somebody we set our stress reaction in motion: Immediately your heart rate increases. Adrenaline flows. And your emotions flood in.
There's no rule that says we need to respond to something right away. Pause. Take a few breaths.
There are direct pathways from sensory stimuli into the amygdala, which is the emotional response center of the brain. When something unsettling happens in the outside world, it immediately evokes an emotion.
When under emotion (on our way to spoil relationships, both professional and personal) we are not able neither to think rationally nor make good decisions.
So, how do you get beyond the emotion to rational thought?
When you are about to get into fight with somebody, similar war is going on in your brain between your prefrontal cortex and your amygdala. Amygdala sets stress reaction in motion, prefrontal cortex is calming down guy.
How we could help our prefrontal cortex win the war.
Simply as it is all you need you have always handy – your breathing. Take a deep breath and delay your action, so you give the prefrontal cortex time to control the emotional response.
Slowing down your breath has a direct calming affect on your brain: brain perceives that stress danger is over.
It won’t take long your prefrontal cortex to overcome your amygdala. Just little a second or two.
When you are about to react on your negative emotion Stop… Take a Deep Breath and give your prefrontal cortex a little time to win. Then respond, not react.
It takes only a few seconds. We don’t have that “undo Send” button in real life.
Pause. Breathe. Only then act.