Lower the Cake Dome

We all have ‘that person’.  You know, the one who can instantly make us anxious and wish we were anywhere else, doing anything else, but having to interact with him (or her). Interestingly, you may like or even love this person. Or, maybe not.  Regardless, he has the uncanny ability to set off an unpleasant emotional response (aka, push the hell out of your buttons).

This mere fact alone might be reason enough to distance yourself from this person at all times.  What happens though, when you can’t; when ‘that person’ is a colleague, employee, customer or God-forbid, a family member?

Who knew grandma’s heirloom, would prove so beneficial to your emotional well-being?!?

Enter the Cake Dome: a simple, rounded, clear glass force-field of sorts protecting what is inside from what is out, and what is outside from what is in. This handy piece of visual imagery, developed by my friend and colleague, Dana Meyer, can not only help you manage your interaction with style and grace in the moment, but aid you in recognizing your hot button topics for even more preparation and grace for future interactions.

Visual imagery can be an amazingly powerful tool that can play a pivotal part in memory (Yates, 1996), motivation (McMahon, 1973) and high level creative problem solving (Arp, 2005).  As applied to our scenario, visual imagery becomes a tool that allows us the space for self-reflection and the mind-set for re-direction.   It can be a major challenge to identify what triggers us within a given scenario or interaction.  In her article 5 Steps for Managing Your Emotional Triggers,” Marcia Reynolds, Psy D, presents practical methods for uncovering how to identify your trigger points.

Once we know what pushes our buttons, we can better handle the situations, people, and issues presented to us. The Cake Dome gives us a way to protect ourselves from the emotional energy within a situation or encounter, allowing us the ability to react in a more calm and rational way.

Now you may be wondering, when and how do you “cake dome” someone? When you see this person’s name appear as an incoming caller, you see him walking towards you, or you know you’ll be seeing him, mentally brace yourself and imagine enclosing ‘this person’ in the cake dome.

This concept allows you to see and hear what the other person is doing. However, your experience is as a social scientist or observer, rather than an active participant - getting emotionally drawn in. As comments, tone or gestures are coming from the other person towards you, imagine that they are splatting inside the walls of the cake dome and therefore not touching you on the other side of the glass. Label the splat. Look for patterns. Get curious. If a person says the sky is green, it may seem strange and wrong, but will likely not spark an emotional reaction from you. So noticing those things that do spark an emotional reaction can be instructive for our personal development, as they are likely pouring salt in the wound of an insecurity, fear or unmet need. Perhaps this irritation was intended by the other person; I have found that it was typically not. Regardless, you have the ability to manage your self-talk related to that interaction and thus, manage your reaction.

My personal experience with cake doming is that after several interactions, imagery it isn’t necessary anymore. I still notice the tone, gestures, comments and behaviors. However they have no emotional impact on me. So, next time you’re faced with ‘that person,’ protect your emotions and cake dome him!