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Hard Truths

Happy Monday!

Some of us are contemplating conversations we don’t want to have this week. Voicing truths we’d rather leave alone.

Perhaps it’s a meeting with a boss, co-worker, client, or subordinate. One that will deliver some bit of unwelcome information. These types of conversation are impossible to avoid and sometimes turn us into caricatures of ourselves. But this blog post isn’t about the obvious, how to have the difficult conversation. Whether you admit it or not, you know how to do that part. What you are likely missing out on is how to deal with your feelings about it.

I’m aware that I have just said a controversial thing. Our workspaces are barely equipped to deal with the fullness of our humanity, they really aren’t ready for a complete range of feelings. Be that as it may, your body is not going to gracefully let you ignore them. For good or ill (mostly good imho), your emotional context has a direct line to your ability to do your work especially when the tasks before you are difficult.

So how does one navigate an emotional quagmire without losing the professional edge we all seem to be seeking? The answer is a little bit at a time, a concept we call titration in voice and speech circles.

Emotional Titration

We are all infinitely able to handle small amounts of charged sensations with much more facility than we can process large amounts of them. This is common sense and yet, how many of you are usually building a dam against emotional release instead of finding healthy ways to vent small amounts of emotion throughout the day? Is it really that one should never show certain emotions in the workplace or is it that we only have two modes: hold back or lose control?

So, how are you going to get through our original problem, the hard conversation with all of its emotional messiness? First, let your emotions have a good vent before you enter the arena. No one is expecting you to enter the workplace flying your feelings high, as a matter of fact no one consented to that. What can and will help is acknowledging what you are feeling as it builds and managing it.

Here are my favorite coping mechanisms for emotional regulation:

  • Boxed Breathing: This old chestnut is extremely effective at self-regulation. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, and hold for 4 counts. Repeat 3x.
  • Say what you are feeling out loud (yes, this can be in private). Name it all even the embarrassing stuff. And, realize that you may not be good at this part if your usual technique includes avoidance. You’ll get better.
  • Practice the talking points for your conversation slowly, allowing whatever is true about your emotions to pass on through. Remember that clarity is a kindness.

At the end of the day, your workplace may not be ready for your emotional states but you should always be open to them. None of these components are separate from you and none of you can be separated from effective communication.

Have a great week!

Gina Razón is the Founder and CEO at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service verbal communication studio in downtown Boston.  She has over two decades of experience as a teacher of voice and speech, is a communication and change facilitator, and is a voraciously curious voice user.  Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer and more recently as a professional public speaker.  For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit

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