The 4-Step Protocol to Controlling Your Emotions

I could hear the voice shouting in my head ...

“Put on your shoes!”

“Go brush your teeth!”

“We will miss the bus!”

But this time, I bit my lip. I held back the urge to shout out commands like a drill sergeant. I wondered if we would make it. This time, I knelt down on my knees next to my defiant children and asked them kindly to please brush their teeth and put on their shoes. I promised them some Lady Gaga instead of Fleetwood Mac this morning if they made it to the car on time to get to the bus stop.

It worked!  

Within seconds they were out the door singing “Pinot, pinot grigio girls hhmna naaa”.  I took a deep breath and went with it.

Hhhaaaa. Release.

This wasn’t the first time I used my protocol to redirect the energy to a positive outcome. I had clients from my former agency that were incredibly difficult to please. For every inch, they’d expect a mile. It was exhausting. At one point, one of their team members verbally attacked my team on a call. That big bad dragon started to grow inside of me and I needed to walk out of the room before I let it breathe fire. 

Over the years I tried to think of something I could easily remember when I felt the temper or rage inside of me start to grow. Walking away wasn’t enough, though it helped. I needed a protocol that my mind could intuitively tap into to help me out of the messy situations.  

One day, on a walk it hit me. I realized that I always used four steps to bring most terrible situations either back to the good side or come up with a solution that would benefit everyone.  I called it SAPP.  (As in, you’ll be a sap if you don’t use it!)

SAPP stands for: Stop. Assess. Plan. Present

1 - Stop
When you feel that rage starting to boil inside of you, stop! Leave the table, the room, the office or house if you need to. Just get away before it’s terrible and before you say or do something you will regret.

2 - Assess
Quickly think of the trigger. What made you angry?  Why? Is it you or someone else? In most cases, it’s someone else, but your reaction to that thing is a little out of control. Are you overreacting or are your emotions justified? How do you think the other person is feeling at this moment? As quickly as possible, look at the situation from every angle. 

3 - Plan
Now that you’ve assessed the situation, plan what you are going to do and say. In my case, I planned an exciting car ride with us singing to Lady Gaga. With my former client, I planned a little homework assignment for them asking them to write down the five reasons they wanted to work with us and what they were truly expecting. In this step, think clearly through how your plan can be interpreted. It might not make sense to the other person or team, so what are the contingencies? 

4 - Present
Storytelling can move mountains.
Seth Godin explains, “Marketing is telling a story that sticks, that spreads and that changes the way people act. The story you tell is far more important than the way you tell it. Don't worry so much about being cool, and worry a lot more about resonating your story...” Dealing with crazy kids or even crazier clients is like marketing. You have to convince them of something in order to get to a solution. 

When Godin says it ‘Changes the way people act.’ This is precisely what you are trying to do in any bad situation. If you’ve given yourself a moment or enough time to assess and plan, then you’ll know what to present. The solution is within your presentation. You have to captivate your audience at the beginning and the end in order to make them do something that you’ve either explicitly or unconsciously convinced them of. 

So tap into your SAPP when the situation requests it.   

Here is a little downloadable freebie to place somewhere as a reminder. 


Remember, emotions are normal. Reactions are learned. You can reshape any situation in your life if you follow this 4-step process to grounding your energy and feeling aligned with the situation. 

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