The power of state control - everyone in top management should master it

"Staying relaxed in stressful situations despite pressure on margins - functioning in complex work environments, difficult decision-making situations or crises - that's what I want to be able to do," said Karin S., Sales Director of a medium-sized company. And she was not the first top manager to come to me with this wish. "That's what I want to work on specifically!" was her clear coaching request.

In the last few blog articles, I have generally made the "operational" side of the coaching sessions transparent. That is one side of the coin. In the intensive coaching days (between 4-8 hours), I also provide my clients with the theoretical background to many topics. Many of my clients are rational - they love theory and are often much better able to get involved in concrete implementation this way. So here is the "theory" that I gave Karin S. along the way.

One key to her goal of "remaining relaxed despite pressure on margins even in stressful situations" lies in personal "state control".

What is State Control?

State" is the sum of all neurological and emotional processes that occur in a person at any given time. "State-control" is our brain's ability to manage emotions in everyday life and part of every decision we make. Consciously or unconsciously. People who have an excellent ability to control their "state" react more relaxed in crises and make better decisions.

An emotional state is the primary feeling you have in every single moment. In other words, the mood that moves you as a person. On a typical day, we experience countless different moods. Some we experience as positive, others as negative. Our inner mood not only affects our feelings it also determines our behaviour and our ability to act. If you can change your basic feeling, you can deal with stressful situations in a powerful and relaxed way. Two main components make up the basic feeling. The first is the so-called "inner representation", and the second relates to physiological conditions. The internal representation includes what (content) and how (form/process) one imagines something in one's life figuratively and literally. What is important to one's experience is ultimately determined by how one visualises the situation at hand. You can imagine events in such a way that they put you in a positive state or in such a way that they are a burden on your shoulders throughout the day.

And how does State Control work in practice?

In coaching, Karin S. applied this knowledge to a situation in her everyday business life:

She imagined a concrete situation in which she wanted to react in a relaxed way in the future - despite the stress. First, she developed a clear picture in her head - "I am relaxed, calm - act confidently with my employees and enjoy the recognition" - and imagined this situation as large, bright and very close. In the next step, I asked her to anchor this image: "Observe what you feel, what emotions the relaxed image triggers in you. Consciously store the image - for example, a calm lake in the summer sun or a strong mountain peak lying in the sunlight and relaxedly defying the wind. The next time you need a relaxed State, bring that image back up - big, bright, close."

The second main component of the state, the physiological conditions, is about posture, breathing, muscle tension, facial expressions and biochemical processes that can also be actively influenced. For example, suppose you can control your breathing and consciously use relaxation in moments of stress through targeted, regular training. In that case, you can actively and sustainably minimise stress symptoms such as lack of concentration, "feeling annoyed," or even heart palpitations trembling or stomach aches. Posture and "state" are closely linked: For example, if you hold your head up high in depressive or bad-tempered phases and put your shoulders back instead of letting them droop despondently, you send positive signals to your psyche. Those who smile - even if only artificially - awaken feelings of happiness, regardless of whether we really have a reason to be happy. The French psychologist Robert Soussignan, among others, found this out in a study in 2002.

Influencing one's own attitude at all times is the goal of State Control, a technique I use very successfully in my coaching sessions.

Chain of effects - how it works

To do this, it is essential to know the chain of effects that underlies a state: First, a particular event generates a thought in the subconscious. Then you give this thought a meaning. This leads to an emotion, which in turn leads to a specific behaviour. This results in the individual personal state. This depends above all on the meaning one gives to things, for example, on the basis of personal experience and on the emotions associated with them. 

As you can see, it is an active action: YOU give things their meaning and thus influence your own inner attitude through your thoughts.

Train conscious state control so that you can use it at any time during a telephone call or meeting or have it available as needed. For example, Karin S. learned to activate her relaxation state, which enabled her to communicate confidently and calmly even under pressure. In her feedback, she wrote, among other things: "I have to admit - State Control works, but it takes practice! I underestimated that. It's only since I've been regularly practising my basic feeling that it actually works in difficult situations. Very helpful. The exciting thing is that my counterpart now reacts much more calmly.

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