Author Topic: Develop better poker face  (Read 2486 times)

dodojojo

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Develop better poker face
« on: July 29, 2019, 01:40:59 PM »
I'm usually a pretty even keel person and not one to panic in an emergency situation. I tend to keep my head centered.

However, in heated exchanges and confrontations, I lose it. I become beet red, I stammer and quaver. And I do all I can so I don't start tearing up. I can't have this happen at work, so I want to learn and practice keeping my composure. I'm going through a fraught time at work and I want to stand up for myself but I undermine myself when I start blubbering.

Books? Blogs? Exercises? Videos? Thanks.

Kwill

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2019, 02:01:09 PM »
Prayer? Sometimes in the moment, it helps me to say a little silent prayer, either for a person who I might be annoyed or upset with or else just in general for the grace to restart fresh or pull something OK out of the situation.

Maybe talk to a counsellor or spiritual director or trusted family member about the fraught time at work and see if you can see a way clear through that when you're outside the immediate situation. Maybe you could even role play what you might say in some scenarios that might come up.

Villanelle

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2019, 02:39:30 PM »
Sounds simplistic and maybe condescending, but when I was in therapy for my anxiety, my therapist heavily stressed taking one deep breath.  When we are in these situations, it feels like we have to respond RIGHT NOW, but the reality is that the space of one deep breath is hardly noticeable in a conversation.  But the physical act calms one down, and also buys a hair of time to gather thoughts and not react haphazardly.

Of course it isn't a 100% solution, but I did find it helpful.  When I'm faced with a tense, emotional, or uncomfortable situation, I do a lot of small deep breaths during the course of the interaction and it keeps me from getting quite to wrapped on in things, and staves off the worst physical manifestations of my angst. 

actonyourown

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2019, 08:13:51 PM »
I have been told I have a very good poker face by my boss as well as others (I'm a poker player so good to know it works on most people).  I think just like anything else it takes practice and being in stressful situations.  That said, there are some steps to it as well:

1. Hear or see what is being said and do NOT react.  An automatic reaction is failure to keep yourself disciplined and composed.  Read the article on stoicism on this site here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/02/what-is-stoicism-and-how-can-it-turn-your-life-to-solid-gold/
2. Internalize what is happening.  Give your response some thought.  You are an adult and have mastered how good responses sound, and most importantly, what a bad response sounds like (i.e. talking frantically, not hearing what the other person just said, etc).
3. Take a deep breath.  You are doing this for two reasons: one is to slow your heart rate/anger, the second is to allow step 2 to take place. 
4. Give your response as is appropriate with logic.  Just the fact that you took half a second to think and slow your response down automatically makes your response more reasonable.

When you think about anger, it is one of the most short-lived emotions, but it can cause your voice to crack, your words to become jumbled in your head, or you to become impassioned to your side when maybe you are actually in the wrong.  Let reason and a clear head prevail.  I do this all the time and it is second nature to me to the point that almost no one has ever seen me angry (a close friend saw me truly angry once years ago and still talks about that one time, because it just never happens).

merince

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2019, 09:17:14 AM »
Off the wall advise for the medium to long term: pick up a martial art or boxing or something similar. Sparring will teach you to keep your cool in an intense moment when emotions run high.

tarheeldan

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2019, 10:40:29 AM »
What you might do now, while you're not in the heat of the argument is identify your fears and challenge them. When I get angry or upset, there is some fear behind it, and if I can identify that fear and either see that it's a senseless fear, or one that I have to an unreasonable degree, I can - over time - overcome, or dampen it. I might be afraid of what the other person thinks of me, I might be afraid of losing the argument, I might be afraid that I will do exactly what I'm doing, which is not comport myself well, etc.

What I do in the moment:
  • Slow, deep breath
  • Pray (skip if N/A)
  • Focus on speaking like airplane captain: Calm, almost disinterested, matter-of-fact. I'm a trader, and that's how we speak on the phone

SunnyDays

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2019, 01:45:00 PM »
Do you have to remain in the situation if someone is going off?  Can you just say "I see you're upset, I'll come talk to you once you've calmed down?"  This puts you in control, not the other person.

kayteemacbee

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2019, 02:29:56 PM »
What you might do now, while you're not in the heat of the argument is identify your fears and challenge them. When I get angry or upset, there is some fear behind it, and if I can identify that fear and either see that it's a senseless fear, or one that I have to an unreasonable degree, I can - over time - overcome, or dampen it. I might be afraid of what the other person thinks of me, I might be afraid of losing the argument, I might be afraid that I will do exactly what I'm doing, which is not comport myself well, etc.

What I do in the moment:
  • Slow, deep breath
  • Pray (skip if N/A)
  • Focus on speaking like airplane captain: Calm, almost disinterested, matter-of-fact. I'm a trader, and that's how we speak on the phone

#3! Speaking like an airplane captain is really effective. I learned to do this in 911 dispatch, and recently started (unknowingly) applying it to situations at my current job, where I speak to a lot of grumpy customers. It sometimes has the effect of heating up a confrontation more, assuming the other person is simply looking for a reason to be angry... but it largely does the opposite, and reminds people that whatever is going on isn't the end of the world. In either case, you stay in control.

lexde

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2019, 09:42:24 AM »
Try Headspace. The meditation app. It focuses on NOT blocking thoughts out, but acknowledging and letting them pass on by. Like a leaf on a river.

Practicing that sort of “objective/observational” stance will help you emotionally distance yourself from whatever argument you are making.

Also perhaps try practicing your argument ahead of time? Focusing on tone. Matter-of-fact with statements.

“This needs to change because...” and fill in the blanks.

This helps me make arguments at court and while it can still get a little frustrating, it’s much more effective when you can be objective about things (regardless of how you may feel about them personally).

Maybe also exercise the following: Advocate as though you are someone else. Say “I have been asked to make a point on behalf of (your name), how do I most effectively do this?”

markum9

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2019, 08:40:37 AM »
Read Crucial Conversations.  It has some great tips on how to react in these types of situations and how to overcome your natural “fight or flight” response.

BECABECA

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2019, 11:48:26 AM »
I have this exact problem, and I’ve tried a lot of things without much success, but recently have had some breakthroughs. I recommend the book Healing Trauma by Peter Levine. I had an emotionally abusive childhood and so someone expressing anger at me when I don’t think it’s justified is extremely triggering. But what it looks like to an outside observer is just that my mood turns on a dime, I have a tiny fuse, and am a bit of a jerk.

The book (and accompanying cd with exercises) helps you identify the physical effects of your emotions so you can notice when your body is putting you into fight or flight mode and your reactions can be less dictated by these internal physical influences (like increased heart rate, tension in throat, sweating of your palms, etc). I’m halfway through it and am already seeing a ton of improvements, after decades of thinking this was just my personality now.

A fast technique to also try when you’re feeling angry is to shift some object in your pocket to your other pocket. A lot of your physical effects of getting angry can be reduced by having your brain be just a tiny bit distracted with this task. You may even be able to avoid getting red or tearing up by just fiddling with a coin in your pocket, not even needing to take it out.

dodojojo

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2019, 02:36:00 PM »
Read Crucial Conversations.  It has some great tips on how to react in these types of situations and how to overcome your natural “fight or flight” response.

Just downloaded the audiobook, thanks.

dodojojo

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2019, 02:39:12 PM »
I recommend the book Healing Trauma by Peter Levine. I had an emotionally abusive childhood and so someone expressing anger at me when I don’t think it’s justified is extremely triggering. But what it looks like to an outside observer is just that my mood turns on a dime, I have a tiny fuse, and am a bit of a jerk.

Thanks, put a hold on the audiobook.  And I understand where you're coming from, I'm familiar with the territory.  I know sometimes I'll get overly emotional and realize it's as much to do with the way I grew up with my mom as it has to do with the current triggering event.

BECABECA

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Re: Develop better poker face
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2019, 04:41:25 PM »
Thanks, put a hold on the audiobook.  And I understand where you're coming from, I'm familiar with the territory.  I know sometimes I'll get overly emotional and realize it's as much to do with the way I grew up with my mom as it has to do with the current triggering event.

Awesome, do give us an update afterwards. I’m curious to see if it’s as helpful for you as it is for me.