Every one human brain has an amygdala, a part of our brain not much bigger than an almond. Your amygdala’s job is to keep you safe. It wants you to follow well-established patterns of behavior. When you break a pattern, your amygdala freaks out and tells your body to give you a shot of cortisol. You feel stressed and uncomfortable and go back to following the pattern. Great? Not always. Your amygdala can sabotage your success in a media interview.
Because it knows how you should answer questions! It knows you get a smile from the teacher if you quickly deliver a smart, complete answer to the question you are asked. But you are NOT an obedient third grader in a media interview. You are a company spokesperson with a specific message to deliver. Your job is to pivot to what you want to say.
It isn’t easy to put your amygdala in a cage in media interviews, but you must do it. How?
First, you develop awareness. You observe yourself and what’s going on in your body as it happens. “Wow, sitting in this studio is really freaking me out right now. I can feel my heart racing. I’d better take a few breaths to ground myself so I don’t overreact when I answer.” When you know what the amygdala is up to you’ve won half the battle.
Then, you learn to master your impulses. You may want to jump up and run away, or reach across and throttle the reporter. Or you may think you’re defending your dissertation and get anxious about perfectly answering the reporter’s question. But you pause, breathe, and calm yourself down before you open your mouth. You tell your amygdala to chill out and you tell your mind to take over.
Once you’re out of the realm of instinct and into the realm of conscious thought, you can gracefully pivot to what you want to talk about.
When you’ve practiced enough, your amygdala calms down. It recognizes the new pattern you’ve created and will reward you for being a great spokesperson/pattern follower. Won’t that feel great?
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