Triggered? Tips to Regulate Your Emotions During a Proceeding


Triggered? Tips to Regulate Your Emotions During a Proceeding

Tips to Regulate Your Emotions During a Proceeding.

When working in a courtroom or deposition room, court reporters, transcriptionists, judges, attorneys, court clerks, videographers, witnesses, and interpreters can expect to experience a wide variety of case topics.

As a neutral third-party to the case, court reporters are undoubtedly expected to control their facial and body language.  This is critical while both on and off the record in the presence of all participants in the proceeding.

I learned this very early on in my career. I was a brand-new reporter, on my second job ever, shadowing an experienced reporter at my local courthouse.  Not knowing what type of case it was, I was surprised when the witness was a five-year-old girl who had to relay something terrible that happened to her.  As you can imagine, I had an extremely hard time keeping it together.  Luckily, I was able to sit behind a one-way mirror, while the reporter I was shadowing wasn’t.  I watched as she had to remain neutral and not react to the testimony while sitting next to the witness.  I quickly learned that I would need to master that skill to work as a court reporter.

Working in the legal industry can be difficult at times, considering the types of things we experience.  You will hear, and sometimes see, stories of pain and anguish, as cases can range from the mundane to the grim.


Emotional triggers spark intense negative emotions.  Sparks can include something that you see (like an exhibit), hear (like witness testimony), and even things you smell or touch.

You never know what will be brought up during a proceeding.  Even if you are covering a seemingly simple slip-and-fall workers’ compensation case, the witness could bring up something from their past that could trigger you.

We can be triggered by many different things, depending on our life experiences.  In order to control your response to triggers, it’s important to know how to regulate your emotions.  Keep in mind that there are going to be differences in the coping skills that are appropriate to use during a proceeding and the coping skills that you’re able to use after the proceeding has concluded.  You can’t listen to music while the judge is issuing a ruling, right?


  • Grounding:  Use your five senses to ground yourself; concentrate on the external when you feel out of control internally.  Examples include going on a walk, taking a bath, or listening to music.  While on the record at a proceeding, this might look like paying attention to something you see in the room or the keyboard you are feeling.
  • Belly Breaths:  Take deep breaths that make you stick out your belly as far as you can.
  • Distract Yourself:  For example, start counting from one to ten, mentally create your grocery list, etc.
  • Honor your Feelings:  Validate your feelings when you experience them so that when on the job, you are less likely to emotionally respond.
  • Bilateral Stimulation:  Things like tapping your feet one at a time can calm your nervous system.  Learn more ways to implement bilateral stimulation here:
  • More Emotional Regulation Skills:

These valuable tips can be used in any industry or facet of life.

Check out our course for more tips on professionalism and ethics both on and off the record.