Breathe and Focus – How to Make it Through Anything

It was one of those encounters that NO ONE enjoys – and happy, positive-attitudinal motivational speakers are no exception.

At a board meeting I attended recently, one of the participants took umbrage to a concern that I had voiced about her performance in a certain area.  I am pretty good at expressing my thoughts in a non-offensive way, but very quickly it became evident that she didn’t hear it that way.  She shouted, “You think I’m awful and want me out!”  Then she looked down at the agenda and proceeded to move to the next item under New Business.

It was a stunning moment.  I immediately interrupted her with, “Whoa, wait.  We cannot leave this pile of poop in the middle of the table and just ignore it.  Let me make certain that my concerns and my intentions are clear…”  (Okay, maybe not the most elegant way to address the situation – but it worked.) And then I proceeded to repeat that I thought SHE was doing a Herculean job but was simply given too many responsibilities too soon. Some of them she was GREAT at – and some of them I thought she could benefit from some help with.

This was the part where she kept interrupting me, defending herself, accusing me of intentions that I didn’t have. And I saw something amazing. She had decided that I was out to get her, and regardless that other people in the room kept saying, “Wait, I don’t think Linda meant that at all. I think you are misinterpreting what she said,” she would not, or COULD not see or hear any evidence that was contrary to what she already believed.

This was all very disconcerting and uncomfortable. And YES, at one point I wanted to yell, “Hey! Snap out of it! You are making this #$%@ up!”  But in spite of how I FELT, what I did was this:

1) State what was true for me (thanks, Colette Carlson)
2) Rebut her assertions a couple of times – until I realized I was talking to a locked door. At which point I decided to simply…
3) Breathe and focus

Did she ever change her mind? I don’t know. She left the meeting before I did. But I learned a valuable lesson:

Sometimes, in tough situations, you just need to take a step back, breathe and focus. Focus on…breathing. Focus on listening. Just breathe and focus.  It just might keep you from saying something you will later regret.

From your motivational speaker, Linda Larsen, still breathing


Motivational Speaker Linda Larsen, CSP has been described by meeting planners and audiences as "hysterically funny," and "riveting." Known for her ability to connect on an authentic and emotional level with audiences, her spontaneous sense of humor, and her engaging and powerful stories, Linda is passionate about sharing ideas to help people live their finest, best, and most productive lives. Her riveting and true story of being kidnapped and held hostage at gunpoint by an escaped convict, and the strategies she used to escape, will give people the tools THEY need to rise above any of life's toughest challenges, to communicate more effectively with THEIR difficult person, and to find creative solutions to THEIR problems. To book motivational speaker, Linda Larsen: 941-927-4700

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  1. Linda, I know you well enough to state that I’m absolutely certain you spoke your truth with grace and good intentions. Sounds like your goals were to achieve the Board’s goals which required someone risk being real and bring this issue to the table. Given that others jumped in to clarify your meaning, meant that your delivery was pure and purposeful.

    Perhaps one day this particular woman will be in a place to receive this insight in the way it was intended.  Perhaps she will never give herself permission to accept her perfectly imperfect self. It took me years to hear feedback that wasn’t positive, and looking back I realize how dearly it cost me in every area of my life. I thank you for the shout out, but more importantly I thank you for letting go of your own need for approval and speaking your truth. Bravo. The Board is blessed to have you on board!

    • Thanks for your thoughtful reply Colette!  I actually thought about that “need for approval” aspect afterward.  There truly would have been a time in my life when I would have backed down from the confrontation because I would have wanted her to “like” me and would have felt that she wouldn’t if I told her what I thought.  It was such a really clean, happy feeling to look back at the encounter and realize that that one fear wasn’t present.  Thanks again!

  2. One of the many things I love about listening to my motivational speaker buddies’ blogs, is the insight I gain from the everyday examples like this.  I had a misunderstanding with a very good friend recently and thank God we were able to talk it out because my message AND intent was grossly misunderstood.  That’s what good friends do, they talk things out and really get to the heart of what was said and what the intent was.  It sounds like this person neither wanted to nor was ready to hear what you really meant.  This is more of a reflection of her than of you based on your conclusion after you thought about the whole exchange  Bravo for speaking your truth!

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