Have you ever been in the middle of a meeting when things get heated and temperatures rise? If so, then you will have felt and seen the negative effects that stress can have on your ability to effectively communicate with other parties. The trouble is that when stress does show itself, it is not always possible to walk away or to go and find something fun to relieve it.
It is possible however to learn to control your stress at that moment. This will help you to gain control on your feelings and emotions and to behave in an appropriate manner. Keeping yourself calm and collected even under duress can allow you to continue effectively communicating with others.
There are several things you can do to help deal with the stress that can come from tense meetings or talks. The first and perhaps most important is to recognize the signs of stress. While you are communicating, watch for soreness or tightness in your stomach or in your muscles. Make sure you are remembering to breathe properly. Shallow breaths can be a sure sign of stress when communicating with others. Clenched fists are also a sure sign that you are beginning to feel stressed.
When you start noticing these things, take hold of your stress and rein it in. Deep breaths can help to slow down your heart rate and begin the calming process. Tighten and then relax your muscles to help ease their clenching. Perhaps one of the best ways to quickly address stress however involves envisioning something soothing to your senses. Envision something that appeals to your sense of taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound.
Give yourself a few moments so that you can gain control of your stress before you continue. If this does not work, then it may be a good idea to hold off until you are able to do so.
Humor when used correctly and at an appropriate time can be a powerful way to reduce the stress in a conversation. Do not pick at others or joke at their expense. Rather, try sharing a light hearted story or an amusing joke to help ease the tension.
A little compromise can go a long way. Just as a pliable board will be less likely to break than a rigid one, by being able to give you will find that stress is much easier to diffuse. There may be times when you will find that it could come easier for you to compromise than the other party. This could be a good chance to help strengthen your relationship.
If all else fails, then simply agree to disagree. Take a short break and remove yourself from the tense situation. Go for a walk, take some calming breaths, or find a nice quiet place to relax and let the stress begin to diffuse. This will allow you to re-center yourself and can help you to reinitiate conversation in a much more civil manner.
Please feel free to check back for our next article which will cover Effective Connecting Skill #4 – Maintaining Emotional Awareness.