It has happened to most all of us. You are speaking or talking about something that triggers you emotionally, and you start to cry, choke up, and your voice begins to shake. It can awkward and uncomfortable. Some people tend to become more emotional than others. Sometimes it takes you by surprise and comes on suddenly.
Here are four actions you can take to control your emotions while speaking or talking, allowing you to regain your composure. Following that is the one action you should avoid, which many people do when they get emotional.
1. Look up: When you tilt your head ever so slightly in an upwards direction while looking up, your tears will stop flowing. Because the gesture is slight, it will not be noticeable to others. I have tried this numerous times, and it is amazing how well it works!
2. Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth: This is a recommendation from Janine Driver, CEO of the Body Language Institute. Just as pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth stops the “brain freeze” of an ice cream headache, it will also instantly stop the tears from flowing.
3. Gently pinch the skin between your thumb and your index finger: This is another recommendation from Janine Driver. When you do this, your brain then refocuses to that part of your body, which stops the flow of tears and re-centers your emotions.
4. Press through the awkwardness and keep talking: I have discovered that if I continue speaking through those uncomfortable moments of emotion, I will regain my composure several seconds later. Yes, it feels awkward and uncomfortable for those first several seconds while I am pushing through it, but knowing that it won’t last long helps get me through the awkwardness.
Finally, I don’t recommend that you do what so many people do when they get emotional–do not apologize. It feels like the natural thing to say, “I’m sorry” when we become emotional when speaking to others; however, embrace your emotions. Web MD explains, “Emotional tears make you feel more vulnerable, which could improve your relationships. Crying often connects people, whether it’s out of grief, love, passion, or another strong emotion. Crying may cause others to be empathetic and compassionate toward you, softening anger or unpleasant emotion that caused the tears to flow in the first place.”
It takes a lot of courage to cry in front of others while you are speaking or talking. And sometimes, it’s worth pushing through the discomfort to let those tears flow, getting it all out there to let the other person(s) know how you really feel.