Aunt Rosa was furious. Her naughty little grandsons were really taxing her patience with their mischief. It was during their regular battles that I had the misfortune of calling her to say “hello”.
“Yes…”, she shouted angrily amidst the chaos in the background.
“What do you WANT?”, shouted the otherwise polite and affectionate Aunt into the phone.
The next day a remorseful Aunt Rosa said, “Sorry, I shouted at you, actually it was directed at Charlie” (the oldest of her three Grandsons)
“I was so angry with the boys when you called”, she said with a small smile.
When we experience environment conditions outside the range of the “easy to handle” area, you experience stress. In Aunt Rosa’s case, her grandson’s mischief created an unpredictable state in her otherwise well managed day.
Our ability to handle stress is also a refection of our ability to communicate effectively. For some, it is not just the manner that they handle stress that is admirable but how they help others handle the stress in the situation. Paramedics, Firefighters and Police are few of the professionals who are trained to handle stress and help others to withstand stress.
The manner they control the tone and volume of their voice is one way we can identify the control they have on the situation.
For many of us, experiencing stress puts us in a disadvantage as far as our ability to formulate our thoughts into words are concerned.
A careful thought or reflection on how we behave while in stress will make it easier to avoid stress affecting our communication.
We can deal with stress for effective communication by following a few simple tips. Tips that may be small but that would make our day happier and fulfilling.
1) Time Management
A fundamental complaint of many stressed individuals is that they do not have time to do what they want to do in their day. Keep it simple by prioritizing the things you have to achieve in your day. For eg: the amount you spend on social networks could be reduced based on the time you need for things that you have to get done in your day.
2) Enjoy Meditation
Meditation can be simply defined as a an activity where we are in a total serene state of consciousness. A state that enables us to enjoy peace and exist in a space that is devoid of the clutter of thoughts and distractions of the environment.
Twenty to thirty minutes of meditation would go a long way in coping with stress and improving our communication with others.
3) Recognition of Stress
As soon as you are facing a stressful situation like arriving late for a meeting, control it by calling and informing the person concerned that you will be late.
Similarly, a situation like seeing your child go to school late can be stressful but before it drags you down, remember, your anger will not change the current situation but a composed chat later with your child may prevent a similar situation from repeating.
Based on the nature of a stressful situation that you experiences, look at the scenario with a touch of humour.
Like it happened to my Dad and me when we went to attend a conference. We were scheduled to attend a conference at 8:00 and as we made our way to our seats we suddenly realised that we had come into the wrong conference hall. To my horror, I could hear people chuckling and smiling, looking at us.
Dad, not least perturbed smiled at everyone and as we left the hall, waved his hand at the crowd of delegates seated and shouted a friendly “Good morning everyone!”
For a second, I wondered “What if no one responds and merely laughs at us!”
But to my pleasant surprise there was a resounding friendly “Good morning!” from the group.
We had come in as strangers and we were leaving the hall in an amicable and on friendly terms too.
That was one incident that taught me a valuable lesson – presence of mind helps and that we need to take care not to take ourselves too seriously in a situation. Experience it with humour and you may even recall that situation later on with a smile!
5) The Joy of being Assertive
There may be situation where you may be tempted to agree to something because you feel obliged to or according to you it is expected of you – don’t.
Just as it is important to respect others, it is critical to respect yourself in the same manner. Being assertive is always based on politeness and diplomacy and you are also communicating that you value the rights of others just as you respect your opinions and views.
The key to being effectively assertive is by being clear with regard to what you believe and stand for.
6) Value your Friendships
For someone who enjoys talking and relieving the experienced stress, go ahead, converse with a friend or someone you trust to understand you and give you solace with their words. This works wonders especially for someone who is an extrovert.
7) Develop a Sleeping Habit
Sleep well to rest your body and mind after a busy day. A well rested person would always find it easier to cope with stress than one who has erratic sleeping schedules and is consequently always tired.
8) The Effect of CAN (Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine)
Lack of concentration, issues with memory, irregular sleep, mood swings are some of the problems that an addiction to the above three can bring you.
Despite the instant rush of energy you may experience from these three stimulants, in reality they merely aggravate your stress.
Hydrate yourself with water, herbal teas and fresh juices to help your body handle stress in a healthy way – without the undesirable side effects.
Stress is better tackled if you learn to let go. When I say “let go”, I’m not saying that it may be possible to always quickly let go of a distress from an event but over a period of time consciously let go. It is easier said than done you may say, but a heart that is free of the tensions and the distress of situations beyond control has a higher chance of being happy and help you in being an effective communicator.
When we are upset or bitter due to a situation, we are not just stressed, but we erode our ability to communicate along with our health and well being too .