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February 13, 2018

Take a Breath and Count to Ten

What is your tactic for containing your frustration or anger? To be quite transparent I happen to have quite a temper, but also have a great mentor who assisted me over time (thank goodness she didn’t give up!) to find the appropriate tactic that works for me. I am actually a very happy person and love people, but every once in a while something just sets me off… can you relate?

Recognizing an issue and finding the appropriate response can make or break you in the professional world. Have you ever worked with a person who loses their mind over seemingly small things, but the way they handle it makes you feel like it is the end of the world? Or, what about the person who seems to let everything set them off and you have to hide out in your office to keep from being the next target? I feel like I have had times in my life where I was both of these in one way or another; however, finding a way to control it definitely made me a better co-worker and team member.

Here are a handful (and not a fist) that have worked for me over the years:

Take a breath and count to ten. Exactly like it says; sometimes taking a breather gives you separation from the issue to get your head right before responding. To be honest, I normally need more than a count to ten, but it’s a good place to start.

Close your eyes. Being still and quiet help ground and center you. I like to add a smile to this one. It’s hard to stay mad when you are smiling, and even if it’s forced, it does help. A yoga instructor taught me this one, and it’s still a go-to for me.

Exercise. Movement releases stress and produces endorphins. If you can’t run out the door, literally, then do some pushups, jog in place or do some squats. This will help calm you and bring your mind back to a more rational place to deal with the frustration.

Write it out. If you are angry with someone or frustrated with a situation, put it on paper and work through each of the points. Sometimes working it out on paper alone will make you feel better, and you might even realize you weren’t that angry at all. Other outside factors have a tendency to make situations feel worse or bigger than they are, and analyzing them instead of flying off the handle can save a lot of relationships, both personal and professional.

The 24-hour rule. This is the one that works the best for me and my family; close friends and colleagues know this rule and understand how important it is to give me some space. I am great at letting things roll off my back as long as I have one day to let it roll. I give my dad credit for this one. He never holds a grudge, and at times it can be maddening how fast he can let things go, but he’s right… there's so much less stress and baggage that way. What I have found is that, for me, 24 hours is the timeline that works. Some people may need more and some people may need less. Have you ever been asked what you were doing this time last year and you honestly can’t remember? It’s like that and it really works. If you aren’t still mad about something in 24 hours, was it really that bad? And if you are still made about it, having a conversation with the person or people involved can come from a much more rational state of mind.

Look, we all have bad days but we also all spend a lot of time with our professional colleagues. Being self-aware and taking ownership of your personality traits can be truly empowering. Find what works for you and own it. Tell your co-workers and I guarantee they will appreciate your honesty as well as desire to be better. Isn’t that what we should all be working toward anyway? I think so.

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