Executive Vitality™: How To Keep A Cool Head At Work

Executive Vitality™: How To Keep A Cool Head At WorkWe need solid coping skills, now more than ever, so that we can maintain our composure in the workplace. While staying composed at work has always been important, the pressure at work seems to be going up exponentially. This is why we recommend you give maintaining your composure a high priority in your life. It gives you the ability to lead with credibility, trust, and respect. Composure is one of the hallmarks of excellent leadership. When you are tired, anxious, burnt out, stressed out, and maxed out—the perfect storm for losing composure—we recommend stepping up self-care as the remedy to sustaining your life balance and vitality. We think self-care and composure go hand-in-hand.

Worldwide circumstances are affecting people in very personal ways, and these topics are leeching their way into the workplace. We are already being pushed beyond our comfort zones, and politically charged divisive attitudes at work just add to the pressure. Since the world at large is generally outside our sphere of influence, in the interest of self-preservation, we must be able to navigate through whatever political landscape exists where we work. This now includes effectively dealing with opinions and workplace policies—or lack thereof—about the pandemic, the country’s leadership, and other topics that people you work with may be passionate about. And even though no one should be subjected to humiliating public put-downs because of their beliefs, it is happening.

Keeping our composure, no matter what is going on around us, is not something that comes naturally to most people. Here are four ways to help you stay composed and grounded regardless of circumstances:

  1. Slow down and analyze what is bothering you. Don’t go with your initial kneejerk reaction. It might not be as bad as you first thought. It might not even mean what you first thought it meant.
  2. Face facts. See if you can distinguish between what actually happened and how it made you feel. You can only control one of those.
  3. Let troubled waters swirl around you. Sometimes you have to act like nothing bothers you. This is referred to as “fake it till you make it.”
  4. Talk to someone. Hearing ourselves tell another person what happened can bring relief. But make sure you talk to someone who can actually help. For many people, telling an empathetic friend or family member what goes on at work can be soothing, but some circumstances warrant speaking with a therapist, a coach, someone in Human Resources, or some combination thereof.

Keep a cool head at work by being as open-minded and empathetic as possible, avoid choosing sides, and stay as focused on purpose as possible. This will see you though difficult situations.

Have you ever been close to losing it at work? What strategies can you put in place so the next time your patience is tested beyond belief, you will maintain your composure?

Further reading:

UCSF Dept of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science – Political Stress

7 Ways Leaders Maintain Their Composure in Difficult Times (forbes.com)

6 Ways to Weave Self-Care into Your Workday (hbr.org)

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