I have never met anyone that had a lower Impulse Control score than mine. I am not necessarily proud of this, of course, but I am also not overly embarrassed by it either.
An Example Of Low Impulse Control
I have also come to grips with the fact that I have always been this way. For whatever reason, I have forever been the kind of person that encountered a stimulus of one kind or another and found myself in a race to respond. For example, as I step into the metaphorical “way-back machine” I can remember receiving some unsolicited feedback from a girl named Juanita Ramsey when I was in middle school:
“Sam you are so immature”!
She has a point, no doubt, but almost before she finished, I countered:
“Nita for crying out loud, I’m in seventh grade just how mature am I supposed to be”?
Everybody laughed and I was off and running. And there have been benefits associated with viewing life through the lens of a hypothetical audition for “Saturday Night Live” But there have also been some undeniable consequences:
- Sometimes when I truly want to be taken seriously, people think I am joking
- Sometimes I hurt people’s feelings
How To Improve Your Impulse Control
When you receive feedback that you have challenges with Impulse Control, and you seek to improve in that arena, the word you hear more than any other is “appropriate.” I believe what that translates to is taking the word “think” and placing it directly between “stimulus” and “response:” In other words, an appropriate response comes when you take a moment to think before responding.
This strategy was expertly documented by Marshall Goldsmith in his best seller “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” He was coaching an executive that could be counted upon to interrupt the people on his team. The team would be in discussion and someone would be in the middle of offering a perspective, and this executive would cut whoever was talking off and say something like “… OK … here’s what we’re going to do!”
The good news is this executive was smart and generally had high quality ideas. The bad news was that nobody wanted to work for him. Marshall’s advice? Do nothing! The next time you are in a meeting with your team and somebody is articulating an idea, avoid the impulse to interrupt. Let whoever is speaking finish then let somebody else be the first person to react.