When you are working with your team, sometimes you’ll face a team member that just isn’t doing what they said they would do, for the umpteenth time. Or, your family is complaining about you leaving for your next essential oil class again.
In times like these, we all know the old adage to think before you speak, but at one time or another, we’ve all faced at least a few moments in our lives when we wish we could take back what we said. For all our best intentions, what are you to do when life throws unexpected stress at you and you just lose control? It happens to the best of us. Here a few suggestions to help you work on staying cool despite what may be going on around you:
Restructure how you think. Keep from inflating the situation in your head by dwelling on how awful the situation is. Tell yourself instead that it’s OK to be upset, but that it doesn’t mean everything is over. If your stress is specifically aimed at another person, avoid saying words like “always” and “never” when defining how their actions have upset you. Such words are alienating and simply over exaggerate the issue.
Refrain from saying the first thing that pops into your head. This is not only about taking time to calm down before you speak, but it’s also about listening more. Often, the first thing you think of is not the best thing. So, slow down and take your time before answering. Actually, hear the words the other person is saying and take them in before responding. This will help you say what you really mean and keep you from worsening an already bad situation.
Visualize how you look to others. Know the difference between anger and aggression. Aggression is trying to inflict harm. Anger is simply a reaction when you feel wronged. You can be angry without adding in the body language of aggression, which is intimidating to anyone watching. If you physically act calmly, your body language can help calm the situation because you’re not intensifying it. Instead, you can have a discussion about how you feel.
When you can’t take a time-out, it’s best to admit out loud that you’re angry or upset. Saying, “I am feeling angry,” can seem like the most uncomfortable thing to say, but it’s well worth that momentary discomfort. Instead of launching into a full-blown angry rant, you can express your emotion rationally and start the conversation on more positive terms.
Give yourself time and credit. Take time out for breaks around some of your more stressful moments of the day to diffuse your emotions. Take yourself out of the immediate surroundings and simply have quiet time. Whenever possible, plan important conversations where emotions might run high for a time when you are not tired, stressed, or distracted.
McCammon, Ross. “Don’t Pop Your Top.” Entrepreneur, May 2016, 15-2016.