I hold myself and my coaching clients accountable to “self manage” – to catch ourselves before we go berserk! I was in the grocery store last week when a three year-old girl threw herself on the floor, arms and legs flailing, loudly wailing that she wanted to go home!! The poor Mom looked horrified. So I went up to the Mom and said, “I’m with her…I’d like to go home too…and I’d also like to be able to freak out in public, but I’m afraid they’d take me away in an ‘I love me jacket!'”
We all have had those moments at work where someone annoys us, springs a deadline on us at the last minute, says something that hits us the wrong way, or forgets to invite us to a meeting and then blames us for not showing up. Any of these can wreck your day. Understandably so!
If you are looking for an idea for a New Year’s “tune-up” – a behavior change – I have one for you! Know your “stress barometer”; know your breaking point. Everyone has one. If you think you’re as cool as a cucumber all the time, you’re not being honest with yourself! Some people’s fuses are longer than others – but stress has affects on us all in obvious ways and hidden ones. We’ve all read about the ugly things stress does to the body – from your hair falling out to heart attacks, depression, and everything in between. So why do we ignore the signs? Why can’t we catch ourselves before we go bananas? Because we’re human! But that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to cope before we lose it.
Here’s how each Playground Personality shows the physical signs he/she is about to go over the edge:
Peacemaker – looks calm – but like a swan, Peacemakers are graceful above water and paddling like mad below the surface!
Organizer – wears his emotions on his sleeve. You know when you meet a stressed-out Organizer: twisted necktie, jacket off, shirt sleeves rolled up…you get the picture.
Revolutionary – gets a little jittery, and no wonder, because the Revolutionary feels as though he’s in a batting cage with an automatic pitch machine that shoots balls out every second!
Steamroller – gets super-focused. Somehow Steamrollers close out the world and really miss what’s going on around them.
Part of the strategy is to know what triggers the stressors, observe the physical cues and have your reaction already planned out. Let’s face it – the same things repeatedly stress us out – not new things. Here are some clues about how people are feeling or thinking just before they go sideways. Stress is sparked for…
Peacemakers when people don’t get along or say uncalled for things to each other.
Organizers when work is piled high, unreasonable deadlines are imposed and it’s all on them.
Revolutionaries when one of their team members does a “knucklehead thing” and they have to explain it to the boss.
Steamrollers when there’s a failure on their watch.
As managers, we have to be aware of what stresses us out and what we do that rattles our staff. I’ve given you ideas about common trigger points. First, take a read of the situation before you engage a member of your team, but more than that, take an inventory of your own flashpoints and gain an understanding of how you can improve your coping skills. Think about knee-jerk reactions so you can avoid them and keep a positive attitude the next time you’re on that narrow edge between in control and freaked out. Second, think of the people around you. Each has a meltdown point but if you understand what that is, you’ll be better equipped to work around it.
Be aware of your stress barometer; know the signs. When your heart begins to race, have a strategy to mitigate your negative reactions to stress. Catch yourself so you can move ahead and manage your team without the drama!