We’ve all had those days where it seems like the universe is working against us. A client criticizes your team’s work, vendor plans fall through, coworkers call out on an important pitch day. And when it feels like the next thing to go wrong will decidedly be the last straw, when we’re one slip-up away from a desk punch or headset hurl, what do we do?
We stay calm, cool, and collected. Read how below.
In the Moment
When that last-straw frustration hits, the part of your brain responsible for emotion and reaction is trying its hardest to take over. To fight back and restore perspective, our coaches recommend that you:
Take deep breaths and count to 10. You can do both of these calm-down techniques simultaneously in the heat of the moment while someone else is speaking and they would never know that you were about to lose it!
Working to effectively slow your heart rate, breathing deeply, and focusing on something other than your frustration gives you the opportunity to be responsive and not reactive when it’s your turn to speak.
Ask yourself how important this really is. Whatever happened might feel like a big deal right now, but chances are it won’t be a big deal in five years. In two weeks, you’ll likely have a solution and everything will be fine. (If that didn’t make you want to take another deep breath, take one now.)
Try not to take things personally. “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others thought about you if you realized how seldom they did.” Eleanor Roosevelt had it figured out. Not taking things personally is easier said than done, but it can save a lot of frustration if you do.
Remember that everybody has insecurities, makes mistakes, and overthinks little things they may have done or said. Focus less on what went wrong and more on the next steps required to move forward.
Day to Day
In more of a long-term sense, you can avoid losing your cool at work by making sure that:
Your basic well-being needs are being met. When we’re not getting enough sleep or are angry or frustrated about something else that’s going on in life, it’s hard to keep perspective while dealing with others.
You ID and apply effort toward what it takes for you to be at your best. For many people, this might be eating right and exercising regularly, spending time with family and friends, or making sure that their finances are in order. Whatever these things may be for you, putting in the effort to make sure that you feel fully present will help you to keep a better baseline for dealing with curveballs and challenges as they arise.
Finding you’re not able to keep work at work and home at home? You may be interested in checking out our post about how to rethink your work-life balance.