Staying Cool Under Pressure

We’re morphing into the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, aren’t we? Heat and humidity are in the forecast, but they don’t have to carry over into work relationships and your performance on the job. Chickens peck at each other. Let’s not. As it turns out, there are easy ways to defuse hot situations.

First of all, don’t take words at face value. Everyone experiences that gauche moment when something pops out of the mouth all wrong, and the person you’re dealing with may be experiencing that moment in real time. Clarify. “Did you mean…” is a great starting point for defusing potentially explosive situations. Interchanges can go from mild to explosive in a matter of moments, hence the term road rage and the need to remain low key.

Second, chalk a few disparaging remarks up to the virus…it’s making us all a little bit crazy. In the face of so much uncertainty, many are walking a fine line between acting okay and feeling okay. Cut the other person some slack. Smile and give grace. It’s a sick time, so of course it will be reflected in conversation as well.

Third, avoid rabbit holes. In every situation there is the stuff that belongs on the surface, things like he said, she said. But if you let yourself descend into what the other person might be thinking, you’ll be lost in a barren landscape nothing like what Alice experienced when she went through the looking glass. Most people don’t mean anything. They’re just trying to get from point A to point B, to finish a shift, to make it ‘till lunch. Stop reading into an exchange a scenario that never existed.

People who defuse bombs for a living begin with a threat assessment. You should as well. Before reacting to another’s comment, ask yourself three questions:

  1. What is the person really saying?
  2. Will I remember this a week from now?
  3. Does it really matter?

Unless the person acting rudely is waving a gun in your face, it may not be so important. Learning how to separate yourself emotionally from another person’s toxic bubble is a valuable lesson you’ll enjoy all through life.

Think about the star athlete taking a shot in a tied game during March Madness, with a trophy and a ring on the line. Mindful suggests you simply choose where to focus your attention. The athlete focuses on the rim. You can focus on your job. Just get ‘er done and walk away. The pettiness of others, their whining, their rudeness is not your problem. Just focus on what counts. You’re there to make some dough, so do what makes the dough.

Dr. Patty Tublin suggested in a recent Huffington Post article that paying attention to your lifestyle may make all the difference in avoiding troubling, potentially explosive situations. Get enough sleep. Think positively. Breathe. Eat healthy food. It stands to reason that we all perform better when we are in better shape, and this holds true for dealing with trouble as well.

The long and short of dealing with conflict is this: You are not there to educate anyone else, to solve another’s problems, to listen to another’s troubles about coworkers or bosses, to make their workplace a healthier space. You are there to stock product, make it attractive, and earn a paycheck. When you get sidetracked into hot topics and heated conversations, everyone loses. Don’t be a hen picker…Stay cool!

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