Meetings, especially the dreaded ones, are an inescapable part of the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) life. The moment the phrase “scary meeting” is uttered, a collective shudder runs down the spine of many. Despite the love for therapy, SLPs often find themselves overwhelmed with paperwork and anxiety-ridden meetings, especially those who are introverted or grappling with anxiety. However, the essence lies in not trying to change the meetings but altering our perception and experience of them.
One of the biggest adversaries before a scary meeting isn’t necessarily the meeting itself, but the anxiety preceding it. The brain often races, projecting worst-case scenarios. Thus, preparing before the meeting is crucial. This entails developing emotional intelligence, a term popularized by Daniel Goleman in 1995. Emotional intelligence is comprised of four major components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Developing these skills aids in recognizing and managing our emotions, as well as the emotions of others, ensuring that the Scary Meeting Survival Guide is efficiently applied.
However, the foundation of any successful meeting lies in preparation. Avoiding the cycle of defensiveness, imposter syndrome, and perfectionism can be achieved by grounding oneself in well-researched facts and past data, thus preventing any aggressive confrontations during high-tension meetings.
But what about strategies during the actual meetings? Here the concept of “amygdala hijack” comes into play. Essentially, it refers to intense emotional reactions disproportionate to the situation, sidelining rational thinking. Recognizing the symptoms of an “amygdala hijack” during a meeting can help regain control. Simple grounding techniques, like tapping fingers, deep breathing, or even focusing on physical sensations, can help regain focus. Moreover, employing empathy during meetings can shift perspectives, allowing one to find common ground even with challenging individuals.
Lastly, post-meeting, it’s essential to address the residual stress. Drawing inspiration from Emily and Amelia Nagoski’s book, “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle,” it’s crucial to differentiate between the end of a stressor and the end of stress. Engaging in physical activity, seeking positive social interactions, indulging in laughter or creative tasks, and ultimately immersing oneself in enjoyable activities can help dissipate residual stress, a crucial component of the Scary Meeting Survival Guide.
In essence, scary meetings might be daunting, but with the right strategies, they are not insurmountable. Every SLP can navigate them efficiently, fostering a supportive community. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey.
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