One of the “personal skills” I have been working on for the past couple of years is my ability to not take things too seriously. There are so many events in our day to day lives that make us stressed out and it is easy to get wrapped up in the intensity of a situation. This is especially true in business situations but it can really apply to any area of your life.
If you allow yourself to be consumed by the stress, it obviously can take a huge toll on your well being. Here are 4 steps you can follow to stay calm and relaxed when a situation reaches a point of stress or intensity:
Consciously relax. You can literally reduce sensations of stress and anxiety if you force the muscles in your body to relax. The easiest way to do it is to start at the top of your head and focus on each area of your body. Make a point of relaxing any muscle that seems to be tense. In many cases, you will be amazed at how much tension you were holding onto (this technique works well if you are nervous before delivering a public speech as well).
Focus on breathing. Similar to the first point, focused breathing is a simple trick you can use to immediately reduce any tension you might be experiencing. Breathing into the stomach for a count of 3 and exhaling for a count of 6 will slow your breathing to a point where you will automatically start to relax.
Visualize something funny. This is a personal trick I use but it really works. The fastest way to move yourself out of a negative thought pattern is to totally replace the thought with something different. For example, if I am speaking with a customer who is angry, I might visualize myself interrupting the conversation so that I can break into a fast paced dance routine. Then I visualize the other person’s stunned reaction and I immediately feel like laughing.
Verbalize your relaxed approach. This is the key step in process. If you can demonstrate to the other person that you are not allowing yourself to get “out-of-control angry” and tell them that you intend to reach a solution without getting upset, they will often match your energy. A conflict can only escalate if both people are willing participants. By refusing to participate in the conflict, you remain in full control of the situation.
Next time you have a situation where there is conflict or an argument, try these techniques and see how much more effectively you can handle the situation.