Four techniques I practice, to avoid other people’s stress becoming my own
The world has gone crazy and the pressure of COVID19 is taking its toll.
It’s well-known that we take on other people’s stress and emotions. And in a time of crisis it is even more evident. If the people we work with are optimistic, we are more likely to feel optimistic. However, if the people we work with are stressed and under pressure, we are likely to feel the same.
In today’s environment second-hand stress is nearly inescapable. Never have we been so connected in the form of verbal, nonverbal and written communication. Just looking at our mobile phone can easily allow someone else’s stress to become our own. The good thing is that there are skills we can learn, behaviours we can practice and tiny tweaks we can make to our environment that will help in dealing with other people’s stress.
Here are four techniques I practice.
1. Don’t Check Email at Night
I have learnt this one the hard way and still fall into the trap. You can’t fix something late at night when you are tired and already done in from a long day. In fact, by checking your email late at night you fill your mind with the downloads, requests, and inquiries that ignite your brain and keep you awake. You head off to bed dreaming of work which leads to a restless night and morning fatigue making life harder the next day.
As you all know I have a flexible work environment and without boundaries in place I compromise mine and my family's health and wellbeing. It can be difficult for some clients to understand when I am available, or unavailable, but being transparent about my working hours helps align expectations with our clients and builds trust.
2. Find a Confidant You Trust
The past couple of weeks would have been more challenging without my ‘download buddy’. She is there at the end of the phone when I just need to download. She allows me to get what is annoying me off my chest, pulls me up if I am being irrational and provides input and insight into how my behaviour will impact on the situation.
Given the opportunity, collaboration with a confidant that you trust can significantly reduce communication problems between you and your customers. By working together, your understanding of the problem and the client’s perspective can be deepened. This provides confidence for you to quickly resolve the situation, lessons your stress levels and can avoid future issues.
3. Stick By Your Terms & Conditions
We have these for a reason, they are to protect us in difficult times. When someone challenged what we charge recently, we were able to go back to the terms and conditions we provided upon acceptance of our proposal. Our hourly rate and the total cost of the work we had been engaged to undertake was clearly outlined and agreed to.
We have spent hours developing our service offerings, packages and terms and conditions. Like many of us, we have questioned the value of our offer and after more than 20 years in business I’ve realised you must back yourself. We have all worked hard, advanced our skills and have a continual desire to improve - we deserve to be paid.
4. Self-Care - Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep
I know we hear about the value of nutrition, exercise and sleep constantly but realistically, if we are going to survive stressful times we need to eat well, exercise and get a good night’s sleep. With the passing of my father last October all three of these went out the window. By January I was feeling tired, lethargic, unmotivated and irritated. Not a good combination for running a successful business, or leading a small team.
As of February 2020, I made myself a promise to do better and implemented some lifestyle changes. I put daily exercise back into my morning routine, started planning our nightly meal ahead of the hour before we had to eat and decided to be in bed by 10pm each night of the working week. I know it all sounds a bit over planned, but it works for me; my brain is clearer, my body is fitter and I handle stressful moments with much more dignity.
Most of us have survived difficult times before and we will survive this, too. But we must be good leaders through this and respectful of the pressure each and every one of us is under.
We need to find our inner calm. Our clients and team will take their cue from us, therefore we need to show up as the leaders we are, and they need. Our goal is to survive this storm with as much dignity and grace as we can. After all we are all in it together.
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