How to Keep Your Cool at Work

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7 Strategies to ‘Keep Your Cool’ in a Heated Workplace

We’ve all been there. A big deadline is looming. Coworkers are being annoying. The boss is irritable…maybe things are even going badly at home. You feel like one more thing might cause you to explode. How can you keep your cool when you’re in the pressure cooker on the job?

You could invest in anger management classes, but chances are, you just need a little coaching. Anyone can learn to self-regulate their emotions. The next time you feel like going off on a verbal tirade, step away and try these seven strategies for self-calming.

1. Bite Your Tongue — Literally.   

Don’t bite hard, but gently and discreetly put a little pressure on your tongue, just enough to keep you from immediately responding to an irksome comment. Consider if there is really anything to be gained by a retort. If someone else is spouting off, any comments from you will likely make them even angrier. Don’t feel you need to respond to every negative comment directed your way.

2. Take a Step Back.

If someone is coming at you, take a literal step back as you “step away” from the verbal attack. Take a deep breath to clear your mind and close your eyes for a moment to distance yourself from the other person. When you open your eyes, you’ll find yourself in a better mental space.

3. Put on Your Poker Face.

Even if you aren’t saying a word, your actions could further provoke an angry coworker. Remember, actions do speak louder than words. Be conscious of your body language. Make a every effort to avoid rolling your eyes, sighing or raising your eyebrows.

4. Don’t Be a Know-It-All.

Correcting facts may be needful at times, but keep it straightforward. And some things don’t need to be corrected. If someone forgets a few minor details while relating a story, you don’t have to be the know-it-all who says, “You’re wrong!” just to inflate your own ego. Sometimes it’s wise to let non-critical errors slide.

5. Be an Active Listener.

Often, people who go off in anger are simply wanting to feel they are understood. You don’t want to fuel a fire by responding in anger, but it’s also unwise to remain mute. Both responses are likely to make an angry person angrier. Nod your head and say things like “I hear you” and “I see how this might upset you.”

6. Don’t Take Sides.

No one likes a gossip. To avoid being seen as two-faced, carefully consider your words. Don’t join in when one coworker is badmouthing another. Use neutral language to avoid inserting yourself into the drama. If you are pushed to give your opinion, employ gentle words. You may be able to neutralize the situation with statements like, “I’m not sure what I think about that.”

7. Laugh a Little.

Laughing may be the last thing you think about doing when tempers are rising, but it is a proven stress reliever. You don’t want to be seen as laughing at someone else, but you certainly can attempt to lighten the mood. Try laughing at yourself a little. Are you making your situation weightier than it needs to be? Learn to use humor to diffuse tension in the office. Just make sure the joke is never at someone else’s expense.

Words spoken in anger are usually regretted. It’s much better to step back and regain your calm. Conflict in the office is unavoidable, but it can be mitigated with clear thinking, gentle language and, perhaps, a little humor. If your team could use some help managing workplace behavior and relationships, contact the professional business consultants at Brink Results. Help everyone in the office to keep cool in the midst of heated work situations.