Sitting with Discomfort

An important part of personal and professional development is practising the mindset and skills that prepare you in advance for being intentional about uncomfortable situations at work.

At Start Anew, I encourage you to identify all the situations at work recently in which you felt discomfort and how you responded or have not responded or how you reacted rather than responded?  

Here are some possible examples of uncomfortable situations which may or may not apply to you:

  • Speaking up in Meetings

  • Leading a difficult conversation

  • Someone says something inflammatory

  • When there are statements that attack your values or sense of justice

  • When people are not thinking of the team or others more generally

  • When you do not feel heard

  • Drawing attention to yourself

  • Fear of judgement of others in a group

  • Hearing someone talking about you or to you in a demeaning way

  • Being in a room where you do not know anyone

  • Meeting someone for the first time

  • Combining small talk with business

I invite you to think of more relevant, recent and immediate examples.


For each of these experiences, ask yourself:

Did you respond intentionally or react to minimise discomfort or express discomfort?  How did you respond or react?

If you find yourself reacting emotionally more often than responding intentionally, it is important to understand more about your window tolerance.  

What happens when you feel uncomfortable: what are your thoughts, feelings, body sensations? How intense are they? 

What do you commonly do when you are so uncomfortable, you feel overwhelmed? Do you say and do things you regret? Do you stay in the safe lane, withdraw from situation, look to others to take the lead, fidget, look away, say nothing, go red, go blank, not speak up, get angry, shout or scream, overcompensate etc?  If you find yourself thinking, feeling and behaving in any of these ways, you are more likely to be reacting. You are outside your window of tolerance.

Widening your window of tolerance and learning to respond starts with a few steps.



  • How is it serving you to react when feeling uncomfortable?

  • In what ways might you be limiting yourself when you react?

  • In what ways can you widen the window of tolerance?



  • If you didn’t feel uncomfortable, what might you do instead? 

  • What beliefs about yourself and others stop you from moving out of reaction?

  • What might someone else do in this situation?

  • What is the craziest thing you could imagine doing in this situation?



  • How might you explore this territory of discomfort (thoughts,feelings, body sensations) in a coaching session?

  • How would you use this learning in a real-life situation?

  • What would be the worst-case scenario if you stayed in your comfort zone?



  • Do something different.  What skill can you apply, what do you need to be saying to yourself, how can you prepare yourself?

  • Imagine you are a person you admire (who you know would behave differently in a situation that makes you uncomfortable)

  • Pretend to be them for a moment.  What would they say?  How would they speak? How would they deal with objections?

  • If you were free to choose how to move outside your window of tolerance, what would you do?


Your Coach, Karen Freedman can assist you in this journey of discovery to move beyond your edge.  


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