“What in the world was I thinking!?!!??” (You…screaming in your mind.)
We’ve all been there: the client is frustrated, the frantic calls are coming in, and you have discovered a major mistake that someone else made but is now on yours to clean up.
With stress running high, a huge amount of events in a short time period, and exhaustion creeping in, it’s easy to focus on the client and flash a smile in front of them.
Behind the scenes though, we often let our guard down and treat our teams and vendor friends with less patience, trust, and care, turning into stressed out versions of ourselves we don’t enjoy being.
These moments of frustration and tension can undermine years of trust, positive relationships, and future team dynamics, so how do we stop the damage before we begin? Follow these three quick and easy tips to reduce stress and increase team camaraderie:
Ask before you react
The fact that you’re reading this article means that you are probably a high performer. You care about your job, team, company, and success, which often means that you may often enjoy being a resource for others, knowing details and helping others.
But here’s a #truthbomb for you: You don’t know everything, even if you think you do. Assuming you know others or situations can get into hot water, especially when we’re moving fast. When stressful, urgent situations arise, take a pause and ask questions first.
Chances are the people you are working with aren’t total idiots (seriously!) and they had a reason for doing what they did, but you’ll never know if you go straight into berating, scramble-to-fix mode. Asking questions gives folks the opportunity to share their thought process with you, own their decision-making, and provide a learning opportunity for you to share with them. Some of my favorite questions in these scenarios are:
• Why did you do this?
• How did you envision this playing out?
• Did you consider the ______ team when making this plan?
Bonus tip: Stay quiet after you ask them. Not everyone is a quick-on-their-feet thinker and may need a few beats to gather their thoughts.
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Share your worst
At your weekly or daily stand up meeting, try a roundtable sharing session with everyone answering the question: “When I get really stressed out, I tend to behave/react like _______.”
By sharing your awareness of you at your most stressed, it spurs a dialogue of how we can support one another. By knowing that Person A shuts down, Person B starts freaking out and running around, and Person C may become short with their words, your team will be better positioned to have each other’s backs and look out for each other when someone is starting to go nuclear. In addition to team assistance and awareness, this knowledge also serves to put yourself on notice and be able to police your emotions better, talking yourself down or taking yourself out of a situation before tensions really flare up and the wrong words are said.
Be quick to say “I’m sorry”
Gone are the days when apologizing is considered a loss of power. Saying “I’m sorry” can be one of the quickest healing potions in the universe. I believe that people in our industry want to serve others, do good work, and make people smile.
No matter how stressful work can get, there’s no ignoring the humanness of us all—even you, Director of Perfection! It isn’t easy to act yourself when the stress has been piling up, taking us out of our best selves. And it’s those two beautiful facts that make an “I’m sorry” so powerful, because when we say it, we mean it to our core.
If you’ve flown off a handle, reacted in a way you’re not proud of, or gone a little too hard on someone, don’t waste a second more—go apologize and see how your relationship changes for the better. “I’m sorry” are words of love.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to have some fun, too. We work in the best industry in the world, bringing joy on the daily to our clients—and we’re all in it together.
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