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How to control my emotional triggers when receiving feedback

As leaders we need to receive and deliver feedback, but how can I control my emotional triggers?

In today’s rapidly changing work environment, receiving and delivering feedback has become an integral part of leadership. Feedback can be a valuable tool for personal and professional growth, but it can also be emotionally charged and difficult to handle.

As a career coach, I have worked with many leaders who struggle with managing their emotional triggers during feedback conversations. In this article, I will provide practical tips and advice on how to control your emotional triggers during feedback conversations.


“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

 – Nelson Mandela


Understanding Emotional Triggers

Before we dive into the strategies, it’s essential to understand what emotional triggers are and how they impact our behavior. As career coaches, we help leaders to understand that emotional triggers are those thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that we experience in response to a situation. For example, if someone gives you negative feedback, you might feel angry, defensive, or hurt.

These emotions can trigger unhelpful behaviors, such as lashing out, shutting down, or becoming defensive. These reactions can be counterproductive, and they can make it difficult to receive and deliver feedback effectively.

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

– Ken Blanchard


Why It’s Important to Control Your Emotional Triggers

 As a leader, it’s important to control your emotional triggers during feedback conversations for several reasons. First, emotional reactions can cloud your judgment and impair your ability to see things objectively. Your career coach will help you to see how this can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunications, and missed opportunities for growth.

Second, uncontrolled emotional reactions can damage your relationships with your team members. If you become defensive or aggressive, your team members may feel intimidated, unsupported, or undervalued. This can lead to a breakdown in trust and communication, which can have long-term consequences for team performance and morale.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt


Strategies for Controlling Emotional Triggers

Now that we understand the importance of controlling emotional triggers let’s explore some practical strategies where the career coach can assist during feedback conversations.

Take a Deep Breath

One of the simplest but most effective ways to control your emotional triggers is to take a deep breath. Your career coach will inform you that when you are feeling emotional, your breathing can become shallow, which can exacerbate feelings of anxiety, stress, or anger. Taking a deep breath can help you to calm down, relax, and focus on the conversation at hand.

Try taking a few deep breaths before the feedback conversation, and continue to take deep breaths throughout the conversation if you feel your emotions rising.

Use Mindfulness Techniques

Another way your career coach will speak about is controlling your emotional triggers using mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness techniques can help you to stay grounded and centered during feedback conversations.

For example, you might try focusing on your breath, repeating a calming mantra, or visualizing a peaceful scene.

Practice Active Listening

Active listening is a crucial skill for receiving and delivering feedback effectively. Career coaches love active listening which involves fully engaging with the other person and seeking to understand their perspective. When we are emotionally triggered, it can be challenging to listen actively because we are focused on our own thoughts and feelings.

To practice active listening, try to focus on what the other person is saying, rather than your own reactions. Repeat back what they are saying to ensure that you understand their perspective and avoid jumping to conclusions.

Reframe Your Perspective

Another way to control your emotional triggers is to reframe your perspective. The career coach will be able to assist you to learn how to reframe, which involves looking at a situation from a different angle or with a different mindset. When we are emotionally triggered, we can become fixated on our own negative thoughts and feelings.

Reframing can help us to shift our perspective and see the situation in a more positive light. For example, you might try to view feedback as an opportunity for growth rather than a personal attack.

Identify Your Triggers

As your career coach will suggest, to control your emotional triggers, it’s essential to identify what triggers you in the first place. Common emotional triggers include criticism, feeling undervalued, feeling disrespected, and feeling out of control.

By identifying your triggers, you can be more prepared for situations that might trigger an emotional response. Once you have identified your triggers, you can develop a plan for how to manage your emotions when you encounter them.

Take a Break

Sometimes, the best way to control your emotional triggers is to take a break. Practice this with your career coach when you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed with emotions, it’s okay to ask for a break to collect yourself. Taking a break can give you time to calm down, reflect on the situation, and prepare yourself for the rest of the conversation.

Use “I” Statements

Ask your career coach why it is important when delivering feedback, to use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. “You” statements can come across as accusatory and can trigger a defensive response. “I” statements, on the other hand, focus on your own thoughts and feelings, which can make the other person more receptive to the feedback.

For example, instead of saying, “You didn’t do a good job on this project,” you might say, “I was disappointed with the results of this project, and I think we could have done better.”

Seek to Understand

When receiving feedback, it’s important to seek to understand the other person’s perspective. As the career coach will explain rather than becoming defensive, try to listen to the feedback with an open mind and ask questions to clarify any misunderstandings. Seeking to understand can help you to see the feedback as a valuable learning opportunity rather than a personal attack.

Use Empathy

Empathy involves putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and understanding their perspective. The career coach will demonstrate that using empathy during feedback conversations can help to build trust and rapport with the other person, which can make the conversation more productive. Try to understand where the other person is coming from, and acknowledge their perspective, even if you don’t agree with it.

Reflect on Your Emotions

After the feedback conversation, take some time to reflect on your emotions. Career coaches ask you why you reacted the way you did and what you could do differently in the future. Reflecting on your emotions can help you to learn from the experience and develop strategies for managing your emotional triggers in the future.

“Your positive action combined with positive thinking results in success.”

– Shiv Khera


Develop your skills in controlling your emotional triggers

Working with a career coach can be an excellent way to develop your skills in controlling your emotional triggers during feedback conversations. Here are some steps you can take to work with your career coach on this topic:

Discuss Your Goals

The first step is to discuss your goals with your career coach. Talk about why you want to work on controlling your emotional triggers during feedback conversations and what outcomes you hope to achieve. This will help your career coach to understand your specific needs and tailor their approach to your goals.

Identify Your Triggers

Working with your career coach, you can identify your emotional triggers and develop strategies for managing them. Your career coach can help you to identify patterns in your emotional responses and provide guidance on how to recognize and manage your triggers when they arise.

Practice Role-Playing

Role-playing can be an effective way to practice controlling your emotional triggers during feedback conversations. Your career coach can play the role of the person delivering feedback, while you practice using the strategies you have learned to control your emotions and respond professionally.

Receive Feedback

Receiving feedback from your career coach can help you to identify areas for improvement and build your confidence in controlling your emotional triggers during feedback conversations. Your career coach can provide feedback on your performance during role-playing sessions and give you guidance on how to improve.

Reflect and Reassess

After each session with your career coach, take time to reflect on what you have learned and reassess your goals. Ask yourself what strategies were most effective, what areas you still need to work on, and what your next steps should be.

Practice Outside of Career Coaching Sessions

Practicing the strategies you have learned outside of career coaching sessions is essential for building your skills in controlling your emotional triggers during feedback conversations. Your career coach can provide guidance on how to practice on your own and offer support as you work to improve.

“Emotions are like waves. You can’t stop them from coming,

but you can choose which ones to surf.”

– Jonatan Martensson



Controlling your emotional triggers during feedback conversations is an essential skill for leaders. Emotional reactions can cloud your judgment, impair your relationships with your team members, and hinder your personal and professional growth.

Working with a career coach can be a valuable investment in your personal and professional development. You can work with your career coach to develop the skills you need to control your emotional triggers during feedback conversations and become a more effective leader.


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