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Work Productivity and Hacks

8 Ways to Keep Your Cool at Work

By Joseph Cueto on April 4, 2015

Each of us has, at one point or another, experienced one of those days -- a day or two that makes you want to pull your hair out, scream at the top of your lungs, or better yet, wish that you could turn into the Hulk and go on a rampage. Why do we feel that way? It’s because certain things happened in the office, at home, or on the road that pushed your buttons. Being reprimanded by your immediate superior, talking to an irate customer, a slow-moving line at Starbucks. And just when you thought it could not get any worse, your favorite NBA team loses a crucial game with playoff positioning implications. Oh the horror!

Before you summon your inner Hulk and run roughshod over your office mates and surroundings, Amiel Handelsman, author of Leading When You’re Ticked Off, offers eight ways on how to keep your cool wherever you are (with emphasis on work life, of course). Keep calm and read on:

1. The Paraphrase

Listen. Absorb. Repeat what your colleague said in your own words to prevent things from getting lost in translation. It helps you to be in touch, not in a fighting mood, with your teammate too.

2. The Gentle Probe

Ask. Then ask some more. Sooner or later, you will be on your way to your own version of a deep dig, one that can help both parties discover pertinent details or issues yet to be uncovered.

3. The Pause

Don’t like the way an interaction is headed? A pause can rescue a lost cause since it can make the difference between regretting your action and becoming calm as an idle church bell. The quick process can start by signifying, “Thank you for weighing in. Give me a second to digest.” Then hit the pause button, and give your reply after a few.

4. Three breaths

If the pause doesn't work, try taking three deep breaths before saying or responding to anything. Or even 10 breaths if that's what it takes to slow down your reactive responses. Focusing on your breath and get centered.

5. The Timeout

Are you on the verge of a major eruption like a dormant volcano? Call a timeout. Take a brief respite (i.e. 30 minute break, resetting the meeting schedule, or stepping out of the meeting room) and come back with a refreshed perspective.

6. The Do-over

Prevent inflicting further damage after saying something regrettable about a situation or a person by gathering yourself, taking a deep breath and saying, “Let me rephrase. What I meant to say was…"

7. The Slow-mo

A conversation with your boss is careening into the fast lane and could spiral out of control. Break the pace by slowing things down. It may mean telling others, “Let’s go over stuff methodically and with no rush.” It may also mean slowing down the dialogue, and pausing a lot.

8. Name that emotion

Awareness of and giving a name to the emotion you are experiencing can reduce their hold over you.

It’s time to use these strategies to help improve your relationships inside and outside of the office, and more importantly, in handling demanding and potentially troublesome interactions. Which of these eight strategies do you plan to employ?