Word-Of-the-Week #715: Calm

April 19, 2018 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #715: Calm 

Calmnot showing or feeling nervousness, anger, or other strong emotions.

How easy is it for you to be calm in a disagreement? How receptive are you to hearing another person’s perspective? Can you disagree without being disagreeable?

This is the second half of Thanks for the conflict! Recognizing—and appreciating—when a co-worker fights fair” by Deborah Grayson Riegel. To recap, “Workplace conflict is inevitable.You are going to come up against people who challenge your ideas and who challenge you. 

That’s a good thing. Disagreements can lead to diversity of thinking, improvements in products and services and greater productivity. Disagreements also can lead to better working relationships, but only if everyone involved fights fair. 

Here are the other two healthy conflict behaviors to look for so that you can say “thank you” when you see them. 

  1. Using a respectful tone

In the face of an interpersonal conflict, our brains register a threat in approximately 1/5 of a second. We immediately go into fight, flight or freeze mode, and it’s easy to become snippy, short-tempered, sarcastic, surly or silent. It’s reacting rather than considering how to respond. 

If your colleague is willing and able to stop his automatic reaction, and demonstrate emotionally intelligent self-management by speaking to you calmly and with care, thank him. It likely took some work to be able to do that, and some respect for you to be willing to do it. 

Try saying this: “I just want to thank you for the calm tone of voice you’re using right now, even though I know you’re upset. It makes it easy for me to really hear your perspective, and to have a productive conversation.” 

As radio host Bernard Meltzer once said, “If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along — whether it be business, family relations or life itself.” 

  1. Being curious

Healthy communication navigates and balances between two practices: advocacy (promoting our own ideas, perspectives and points of view) and inquiry (being curious about the other’s ideas, perspectives and points of view.) 

In a conflict, we tend to over-rely on advocacy — telling the other person what we think and know, why we’re right, and why the other person clearly is wrong. Inquiry tends to go out the door. We’re often more committed to getting our way than to getting new information that could sway us (or, heaven forbid, reveal that we were wrong).

When you hear your colleague asking you questions like, “What do you think I’m not understanding here?” or “What would you like to see happen?” or even prompting you with “Tell me more,” thank him for being curious. 

Try saying this: “Thank you for asking me. I’d like to tell you how I see it, and then I’d like to learn more about how you see it.” 

And if he also really listens to your answers, thank him again. 

A conflict doesn’t have to hurt people’s feelings or slow down productivity. In fact, a conflict where both people care about the relationship as much as the outcome can be a catalyst to interpersonal and organizational progress. 

This week’s focus is on being calm during conflict. Do you know how to fight fair? Can you use a respectful tone without getting defensive? Can you see how being curious could help create healthier relationships?

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Word Of the Week #601: Disconnect

February 11, 2016 by · Comments Off on Word Of the Week #601: Disconnect 

Disconnectdetaching yourself from work-related communication.

How often is your phone out of sight? Have you ever spent a weekend without internet or phone access? Do you feel “you have to” be connected 24/7?

This is part two from “How Successful People Stay Calm,” written by Travis Bradberry. He writes, “The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

  1. They Avoid Asking “What If?”

“What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend focusing on taking action that will calm you down and keep your stress under control. Calm people know that asking “what if? will only take them to a place they don’t want—or need—to go.

  1. They Stay Positive

Positive thoughts help make stress intermittent by focusing your brain’s attention onto something that is completely stress-free. You have to give your wandering brain a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well, and your mood is good, this is relatively easy. When things are going poorly, and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, this can be a challenge. In these moments, think about your day and identify one positive thing that happened, no matter how small. If you can’t think of something from the current day, reflect on the previous day or even the previous week. Or perhaps you’re looking forward to an exciting event that you can focus your attention on. The point here is that you must have something positive that you’re ready to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative.a disconnect

  1. They Disconnect

Given the importance of keeping stress intermittent, it’s easy to see how taking regular time off the grid can help keep your stress under control. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors. Forcing yourself offline and even—gulp!—turning off your phone gives your body a break from a constant source of stress. Studies have shown that something as simple as an email break can lower stress levels.

Technology enables constant communication and the expectation that you should be available 24/7. It is extremely difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email that will change your train of thought and get you thinking (read: stressing) about work can drop onto your phone at any moment. If detaching yourself from work-related communication on weekday evenings is too big a challenge, then how about the weekend? Choose blocks of time where you cut the cord and go offline. You’ll be amazed at how refreshing these breaks are and how they reduce stress by putting a mental recharge into your weekly schedule. If you’re worried about the negative repercussions of taking this step, first try doing it at times when you’re unlikely to be contacted—maybe Sunday morning. As you grow more comfortable with it, and as your coworkers begin to accept the time you spend offline, gradually expand the amount of time you spend away from technology.

This week’s focus is making time to disconnect. How would it feel to designate time each day and detach yourself from work-related communication? Are you worried about possible negative repercussions if you did that? Do you have something positive that you can shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative?

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Word Of the Week #600: Calm

February 4, 2016 by · Comments Off on Word Of the Week #600: Calm 

Calmunder control.

How much stress do you experience each day? How does it affect you? Are you able to stay calm and in control when a stressful situation arises at work?

This week features excerpts from “How Successful People Stay Calm,” written by Travis Bradberry. He writes, “The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

Some startling research summaries explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health, which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control. The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.

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Besides increasing your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity, stress decreases your cognitive performance. Fortunately, though, unless a lion is chasing you, the bulk of your stress is subjective and under your control. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ under stressful circumstances. This lowers their stress levels regardless of what’s happening in their environment, ensuring that the stress they experience is intermittent and not prolonged.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when faced with stress, what follows are ten of the best. Some of these strategies may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognizing when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so in spite of your stress.

  1. They Appreciate What They Have

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the “right” thing to do. It also improves your mood, because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy, and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this.

I will share the other nine strategies in the next two WOW’s. This week’s focus is all about staying calm. Do you have any effective strategies for dealing with stress? How good are you at managing your emotions? How often do you have an attitude of gratitude?

I LOVE feedback! Join my Facebook community on my FUN-damentals Fan Page.

PS We left San Francisco January 25th on a “slow boat to Singapore.” I am posting our FUN-travel there too.