Having A Difficult Conversation Can Be Less Stressful

You are certain of deserving a promotion or have a critical meeting with a client who is rigid to reduce the time given for the project delivery. Your emotions run high, there is an adrenaline rush in your brain, and you roll up your sleeves to take the dragon by the collar; but just before you enter the meeting area you feel butterflies in your stomach. These situations arise almost uninvited and often lead you to improvise. Without any time given for rehearsal, you say things which only complicate the matter. When you step out of the room you realise you skipped few things which you should not have and were important during the discussion. Any such discussion or conversation which is driven by strong emotions, is subjective in nature (having conflicting opinions), and can have a huge impact on your surroundings and lives are often the crucial or difficult conversations.

Few of us, who are able to influence others and get the desired outcomes, are the most productive people climbing the corporate ladder, rather quickly. But, for the remaining, it’s like walking on the double edged sword. Either they opt to remain silent and avoid these conversation, or participate in them without proper preparation and fail miserably: often leading to guilt and depression. This is followed by protection phase where one tends to keep away: fearing a conflict or an argument, or to save himself from any embarrassment. While on the inside, the person is fuming with anger and coping up with mixed emotions.

What should you do now?

First step, in such a scenario, is to identify the various emotions (like hurt, anger, happy, confused, or others) intertwining in your brain. Then, list down the ones which really matter (affect you) or are on the top and wipe out other unnecessary feelings. Now, map the situations, events, or needs to the emotions (which caused them in the first place). Like, the client was so rigid (situation) which made me irritated and angry (emotions). By now, you would have freed your mind (which was hijacked by emotions) to be calm and think more clearly. The last step, is to de-link the emotions and deal with the situations in an informed way.

It might take some practice, but command your mind to get rid of the harmful emotions as you have lived with them for far too long; and shift your focus on the situation at hand. Moreover, always think about what you’re going to say and don’t fall in the trap of analysing what the other person will say (that’s just speculating/presuming). Doing this will adrift you from your objective.

What are you waiting for?

Once your brain is free from any clutter and your logics are back all you have to do is make that conversation or dialogue you have been waiting for. Be wary, it should not turn to a monologue or an argument.

Ever heard of a software life-cycle or a waterfall model?

It has basic stages like Planning, Designing, Implementing, and Verifying. Likewise, every conversation has these stages and are equally important. Planning or Preparing, you should be aware of the agenda/purpose, information or details required for the meeting. List down all the things (relevant to the purpose) that you want to discuss.

Then, Designing or Framing, where you logically set the context, the language you would use, and the sequence in which you would present the data points.

Following this is, Implementing or Sharing, where you have a healthy conversation with the other person. The most crucial stage, where one should remember it’s an open platform for both parties to speak; so both should be able to share their thoughts, and their feelings. While one speaks, it’s imperative for other to listen and be respectful and vice versa. A conversation can turn counterproductive when either of the participants resorts to storytelling and citing undesirable events. A short, crisp, and to the point statement will have more impact.

The last stage is, Verifying or Committing, where you ensure the original agenda has been satisfied, and there is a take away in the form of set expectations and actionable items; which can be and should be followed up by both sides.

“My father taught me that you can you read a hundred books on wisdom and write a hundred books on wisdom, but unless you apply what you learned then its only words on a page. Life is not lived with intentions, but action.” ~ Shannon L. Alder


Author speaks: I’m not here to change the world; I intend to make an impact on one soul at a time. If you like my work, please press Like, or better yet put a Comment; perhaps a feedback. However, the best appreciation of my work will be to Share this with your friends and your social circles (FB, Twitter, Linkedin, G+, and others).

Thanks in advance!


Tips For Managing Stress At Work

What happens when you over speed for a long time? The engine heats up and turns off. If you do a lot of multi-tasking on your computer, it hangs and eventually crashes. Similarly, there is a force which encapsulates you when you perform lot of things at the same time: stress! Research suggests that stress is like a silent killer which stalks you, consciously and unconsciously, and can have traumatizing effects on you.

Analysis of the data collected by various organisations shows around three quarter of global population suffer from symptoms related to stress, whether physical or psychological. Most of them find it hard to make their ends meet, and the enormous amount of work: which adds to their stress. Countries and organization, which invest a lot in health care program, spend nearly 300 billion annually on stress related health issues and employee time off work.

A Hungarian endocrinologist, Hans Selye, developed a theoretical model to explain the different stages in stress or how we respond to stress. He named this General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), which breaks the whole process in to three stages; alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.

  • The first stage, alarm (also known as fight or flight response), where you become aware of the trouble coming your way. Your brain sends signal (alarm) to the whole body to stand guard. Two obvious response would be to prepare to fight or to stay low.
  • The next stage, resistance (or denial), where one tends to remain in a prolonged state of aggression or defence: protesting the fact that the he is the one in a really bad situation. “Is it really happening?” you wonder. “Why is this happening with you?” yells your voice inside.  Eventually, you are exhausted and you give up: the third and final stage.
  • The last stage usually involves learning to deal with stress or getting a nervous breakdown: either a reboot or crashing.

So how can you deal with it?

A bulk of your problems start when you fuddle your brain with information which you can easily capture on paper or on digital notepads and to-do lists. Apparently, listing your tasks down will help you to evaluate and prioritise your work. An archer can’t hit two or more arrows in the middle if he nocks all of them at the same time; he does it by taking one shot at a time. Leave the multi-tasking for computer systems and not for yourself. Like your tasks list, you can decide to prioritise or eliminate disruptions. Every phone call, chat ping, query, or email is an interruption and you have to realise that you are in control of it. It may sound hard initially, but you can set boundaries to everything you do. You are a human being and not a fictional super hero, so don’t shy away from seeking help or delegating. This will not make you less competitive, rather help you connect with others.

Whether an associate or a manager, the only way to connect more and create less trouble is by being sensible, yet practical: in short be respectful. What goes around, comes around. Think twice before you speak, if you spread good feelings those will be reciprocated. On the other hand, if you criticise or share bad emotions then you will get those back. Cultivate good relations all around: helps you stay positive and make your surroundings conducive to work better. You live to work or work to live: don’t forget to eat healthy (which rejuvenates your body) and sleep well (which relaxes your mind). Last but not the least, share time with loved ones and make time for your hobbies, perhaps over the weekend.

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” ~ Sydney J. Harris


Author speaks: I’m not here to change the world; I intend to make an impact on one soul at a time. If you like my work, please press Like, or better yet put a Comment; perhaps a feedback. However, the best appreciation of my work will be to Share this with your friends and your social circles (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, and others).

Thanks in advance!

The Desire to Get Promoted

P.T. Barnum once said, “Without promotion, something terrible happens… nothing!”

Why do we want to grow/get promoted?

  • To move away from monotonous work
  • To learn something new
  • To gain benefits associated with the new level
  • To keep up with the competition and challenges in this ever growing world
  • To fulfill our desires and reach the goals we have set for our self

Since the adolescent age we are offered rewards, in terms of toys, or candy, or any other thing. We perform a task when we were offered something in return of we were afraid of being scolded. Occasionally, it was to outperform other kids, perhaps, to be able to show our talent. However, most of the times kids would shy away from these situations.

Coming to think of it as some indicators for neurological reactions, based on individuals’ needs, we can map these to R.I.C.E

  1. Rewards based, where one has desires for being rewarded, sense of being appreciated in the crowd
  2. Insecurity based, where one is afraid of failure, afraid of losing out, sense of being not important
  3. Competition based, where a person try to fend off all competition to make a stand, to be better than others
  4. Evolution based, where a person learns new skills over time and grow as others grow, while at the same time is aware of competition from peers

Every communication needs to have two channels, one to send and other to receive. Likewise, every task has two channels – one is expectation of completion and other is reward for its completion. The ultimate reward is the outcome of the series of tasks linked with one’s (work) profile. These rewards are means to overcome the insecurity of being left out in the crowd, and/or losing out on the prospective opportunities. These insecurities grow with time, as people tend to have more desires. The desires stem from the socio-economic changes, the technical advancements, and not to mention the family and peer pressure.

To attain self-actualisation, the realisation of one’s true potential, a person goes through different levels of needs, as detailed by Abraham Maslow.

Maslow Pyramid

Some people attain these at early age, others struggle citing to various factors. Starting from the bottom of the pyramid, the first three levels are the most desired and comparatively easily attainable. But as you go up, the objectivity or the individuals’ perception of these level come in to play.

Then, the question one should ask is, can I quantify these desires? Or, do I need quality more than anything? One can settle for a practical approach of attaining more, while others could strive for simplicity and happiness with near and dear ones. I have often seen people working at odd hours, and at the same time suffering with health and other issues. That’s the price one has to pay to maintain things at equilibrium. In the end it boils down to how far you are ready to go to achieve (what you desire) and/or sacrifice at the same time. Or if, there is an alternative!

”The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” …so remember: great achievements take time, there is no overnight success. ~ Leo Tolstoy