What exactly do I mean by this title? Exactly what it says—don’t create problems, but don’t accept others’ problems as your own. First know yourself—be aware and mindful of your behavior and its possible effect on others. Second, when a situation begins to escalate and stress is imminent because of someone else’s behavior, immediately remove yourself from the offending situation.
Let's Take The First One First.
BE AWARE OF YOURSELF. Are you friendly, polite, respectful, willing to help? When you are busy, do you snap at questions or requests? When asked a question, do you explain in such a way as to make others comfortable and knowledgeable? Or do you TALK DOWN to others? Do you volunteer information, or do you wait to be asked? We know, from countless studies, the effects of psychological abuse as well as the effects of physical abuse. Why, then, do we not take measures to speak and behave in ways that are productive as well as nurturing? It can be done. The key is to pay attention to yourself.
- BODY LANGUAGE. How many studies have been conducted on that? Do you look at the other person? Do you ask if he or she has understood what you have said—better yet, do you repeat, in your own words, what you think the other person means in order to eliminate confusion, duplication of efforts, and error? Are your arms crossed? Uncross them now. Lean slightly forward, listen intently, treat the other person as if the information is important and carries weight. Let the other person finish. Stop fiddling with pencils and paper clips, leave your e-mail alone, and give the other person your attention. Don’t grit your teeth. It’s something that we do without thinking, as are many of the things that we do; it instantly causes stress and tension, and certainly doesn’t emit anything even close to a good feeling.
- FACIAL EXPRESSIONS. Do you smirk, look sarcastic, roll your eyes, sigh, Tsk, Tsk? Forget it. It’s not what you want so good chance that it’s not what they want either. Never mind if you’re the boss or the project manager or whatever. Your responsibility is even greater under those circumstances. You must set the pace and tone of the situation. The business may rest in your hands. Try smiling. It works wonders. It is nearly impossible to feel stressed when you are smiling. It is known that the body produces chemicals during the act of smiling which directly affect mood in a positive way.
- WORDS WORDS WORDS. What exactly do you say? “He should be happy that he even has a job” doesn’t cut it. If you truly feel that way, dismiss the person and hire someone whom you feel is valuable. That statement will smash morale into the ground, directly affect performance and production, and create incredible stress. Please and Thank-you really work. Poor language is out. Do you make fun of people, bad-mouth about them behind their backs? Here’s what will eventually happen—at some point, everyone will know you as a bad-mouther. Be trustworthy and honest. If someone says “Please don’t let this go any further”—DON’T. Watch what you say. Perhaps a simple rule to follow would go something like this - if it doesn't benefit the situation, keep it to yourself.
- BE A GENTLEMAN (EVEN IF YOU’RE FEMALE). If someone is carrying something heavy through a doorway, hold the door. Hold open the elevator door when you see someone coming and the door is closing. Help out. Period.
Sound difficult? It’s precisely what all of our grandmothers told us. It still works.
Now Time To Take The Second One Second
What about the other person? He or she is upset, going nuts, overworked, under pressure and is taking everything out on you. Try this—simply remove yourself from that person’s presence and wait until he/she cools down. My Very Favorite Sentence - “I can see that this is not a good time for you right now - I’ll come back when you’re feeling better”. This gently lets the other person know that you are “onto” them, but at the same time, you are empathetic. You are not asking for more of them than they can handle right now.
One of the most common problems I encounter in the workplace centers around the response to a question. It very often is accompanied by anger for my even having asked it. Things like “How do you expect me to know” or “When do you think I had a chance to do that” or “Are you kidding” will almost always will provoke some kind of negative reaction. We feel embarrassed, stupid, imposing, intrusive, unwelcome. Our alternatives are many and varied—but they rarely provide us with the answers that we need or reduce the stress which we feel. It is important to remember that we have nothing to do with the response. It is the other person's problem and up to you not to make it your own. Simply repeat the question—and this time, don’t smile. In fact, if you can, don’t show and body language or expression whatsoever. For really abusive people, try My Very Favorite Sentence.
We can rarely control the behavior of another person but we certainly try to control our own. Our reactions should serve us and the situation well, and not add fuel to an already smoldering fire. There are many methods which we can employ to practice developing our own calm, serenity and focus. Then, when we can, we apply them in our work situations. Try some of these:
Be Aware of Yourself - Your Body Language - Your Facial Expressions
Begin by just sitting. No kidding. Go back to your desk and just sit. Place your hands in your lap, one on top of the other, palms up or down, whichever is comfortable for you. Place both feet flat on the floor with your legs uncrossed. Keep your spine straight without being held rigidly. Visualize yourself from the side; your spine should not jut forward at your neck; this distorts your spine and causes tension in your jaw. Allow your chin to drop ever so slightly to reduce stress and tension in your neck.
Consciously relax your body. Begin with your forehead and eyebrows. Un-frown - Even if you think that you aren't frowning, un-frown anyway. Soften your gaze and don’t stare or look at anything in particular. Un-grit your teeth - Even if you think that you aren't gritting them, un-grit anyway. Smile. If you are too upset, angry (or, unhappily, embarrassed), smile inwardly at yourself. Lift your shoulders as high as possible, then lower them slowly, feeling the relaxation in your neck and across your shoulder blades. Allow thoughts to come into your mind and then leave your mind, don’t pause to think or judge or decide.
Continue your conscious relaxation. Release the muscles of your chest and abdomen. Allow your rib cage to move with your breath; do not retain the tension in your chest. Tighten your leg muscles, and then loosen them slowly as you did your neck. Do not press your feet into the floor, but do keep them flat and focus your attention on the fact that they are on the floor. Be aware of the floor beneath them.
Be aware of your breathing without trying to control or force it. If you are upset or angry, try to focus more on your breath; it will help reduce your stress and anger. Use the exhalation to release stress and tension—consciously know, with each breath outward, that your body rids itself not only of carbon dioxide, but of cellular impurities, mental and emotional stress, and muscular tension.
Try to sit for Just Ten Minutes! It may seem forever, considering all that needs to be done and the hectic environment in your office. Make an attempt anyway. Ten minutes isn’t really that long and the effects of the conscious relaxation, rather than simply “getting back to work,” are far more beneficial than you might imagine. Getting back to work is fine once you have cleared your mind and calmed your body; the work that is performed after this relaxation and concentration will be far superior to the work which you would have done had you simply returned to your tasks. Your mental outlook, disposition, and outward manner will soon return to a state in which you and your co-workers can resume a more productive, friendlier, more cooperative process than if you had not taken the time to focus and relax.
As an instructor of Tai Chi, QiGong, Yoga, and Meditation, as well as an instructor of personal computer systems, I have the wonderful opportunity to learn new methods, impart those methods to others, and to apply them in tense and stressful situations. They have benefited me tremendously. Try some of them. I think that they will benefit you too.