stress management

Stress Points… tension-releasers for piqued performers

You are meeting again with a group that includes “Sam the Needler.” His mannerisms irritate you;  his condescending attitude enrages you. He superficially pontificates on subjects you know in depth and either patronizes you or doesn’t acknowledge what you say.

After 10 minutes, you’re steaming. Your heart is beating too fast and your hands are trembling. However, you know that venting your anger would be unprofessional and counterproductive.

How can you regain command? First, tell yourself that you control your feelings, they don’t control you. You can choose to act on them or defuse them. To take the sting out of Sam’s needling – and release your anger – try these emergency measures. Do one or more, use the techniques that feel right for you.

  1. Redirect your attention

Focus on an object in the room that you find pleasing (the view outside the window, a picture, the pattern of a tie or scarf). Notice every detail and then try to sketch the picture in your mind.

  1. Concentrate on your breathing

Place your hands on your stomach, if possible. Inhale slowly and let your abdomen expand. Feel your abdomen fall as you exhale slowly. Repeat until you feel calmer.

  1. Change your position

Shift in your chair, drop a pencil and pick it up, stand up to get water or coffee.

  1. Pour yourself a glass of water

Listen to the water filling the glass. Feel the temperature, taste the water. Focus on everything about pouring and drinking the water.

  1. Turn the situation around

Look at the incident in a new way, try to find the humor in it. Make a joke (to yourself) that wittily puts Sam’s behavior in perspective.

  1. Use the “Anthropologist’s Scan”

Detach yourself from your reaction to Sam. Study him as if he had something to teach you about human behavior. Observe him. Describe Sam’s physical characteristics, then think of his positive attributes (everybody has some). Analyze what motivates Sam, what his point of view is.

Ask yourself, “What does Sam think of me?”

  1. Redirect the discussion

When you are calmer, take charge.  Steer the conversation to the areas where you agree with Sam. Talk about the status of the project, what excites you about it. Use the energy your anger triggered to move ahead toward your business goals.

After all, your goal is really to make the deal or complete the project.

© 2011 Judith Gerberg Associates / Published in the Executive Female. Download