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Stop Clenching Your Teeth: 4 Ways To Help Easily Stressed People To Relax

Stop Clenching Your Teeth: 4 Ways To Help Easily Stressed People To Relax

Have you ever been told to relax? I know when someone tells me to “relax,” it just gets me more fired up. In fact, when I’m wound up, clenching my teeth in frustration, it’s often the case that the more I am told to relax, the harder it becomes.

I don’t need to be told to relax. I need tools.

So, through research and practice, I’ve come up with the following four ways to successfully reduce stress, and help me induce that wonderful state of relaxation. They’re almost as good as a day on the beach.

1. Relax…Take a deep breath

Do you know when a stressful situation is going to hit? How do you prepare yourself?

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When I know a stressful situation is inevitable, I stop and take a deep breath. Deep breathing can reduce your heart rate and increases blood flow to your brain, allowing you to better cope with a stressful situation.

Deep breathing can be done anywhere. When I get lost driving, I make myself inhale for five counts then exhale for five counts, and repeat until I feel my stress fall away.

2. Relax…Close your eyes 

When you’re in a hectic environment, you may find you strain your eyes. Stress tells your eyes to be alert, which was useful in our hunting and gathering days when running from a predator. Nowadays we’re more likely to be chasing deadlines or staring at proposals for hours on end, which often leads to sore eyes and headache.

Give your eyes a break.

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Try closing your eyes and picture a pleasant object (perhaps a flower, or that new Ferrari you’ve been dreaming of). Focus on your object for 10 seconds, then allow other images around your chosen object.

Practicing this only takes a few seconds and can reduce eye strain and headaches that are normally associated with stress.

3. Relax…Give your body a break

Do you ever feel your whole body tensing when you’re trying to solve a problem? If so, try taking two minutes to understand where the tension is in your body.

Find a quiet space, or use ear plugs so you can focus on releasing each muscle. Starting at the tips of your toes working up your body to the tips of your fingers and up to the top of your head, relax every muscle one by one until you feel as if you are a pool on your chair. When you are ready, begin to slowly wake each muscle up starting from the top to the bottom.

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In two minutes you can release the tension from every part of your body, improve blood flow, find mental clarity, and eliminate your stress.

4. Relax…Create realistic expectations

Thanks to media, most people believe that they should be skinny, fit, healthy people who are 100% content with their lives. They should have everything. Great relationships, big houses, perfect kids, and lots of money. Unfortunately, reality isn’t always so pretty.

In the real world, no matter how hard you try there are challenges that come up. Babies get diaper rash and are miserable, someone spills coffee on you at work, your six pack mysteriously disappears when you face the mirror. Reality sucks sometimes, and deep down we know it. So why do we continue to expect what the media portrays?

In situations like this you need to relax your expectations. Instead of wanting what others have, try asking yourself:

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  • Do you really need that big house which you will spend the rest of your life sitting in an office paying for? Perhaps something more modest will do?
  • Is a wife/husband and two kids necessary before you’re 30? Do you want to rush a relationship and end up divorced? Isn’t it possible to meet the right person after 30?
  • How much money do you really need to be happy? For that matter, what really makes you happy?

Expectations are causing a lot of stress in our lives. Decide which are unrealistic and make the switch. You may find that what you think you want isn’t worth the sacrifice after all.

There are many instances in our daily live that cause us to clench our teeth in frustration and anger, which can lead to a significant increase in stress.

Should you find yourself experiencing elevated levels of stress remember there are always methods to help.

All you need to do is relax.

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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

Builds Workers’ Skills

Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

Boosts Employee Loyalty

Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

Strengthens Team Bonds

Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

Promotes Mentorship

There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

1. Listen First

Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

You could say:

  • “Help me understand your thought process.”
  • “What led you to take that step?”
  • “What’s your perspective?”

2. Lead With a Compliment

In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

You could say:

  • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
  • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

3. Address the Wider Team

Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

You could say:

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  • “Let’s think through this together.”
  • “I want everyone to see . . .”

4. Ask How You Can Help

When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

You could say:

  • “What can I do to support you?”
  • “How can I make your life easier?
  • “Is there something I could do better?”

5. Give Examples

To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

You could say:

  • “I wanted to show you . . .”
  • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
  • “This is a perfect example.”
  • “My ideal is . . .”

6. Be Empathetic

Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

You could say:

  • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
  • “I understand.”
  • “I’m sorry.”

7. Smile

Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

8. Be Grateful

When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

You could say:

  • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
  • “We all learned an important lesson.”
  • “I love improving as a team.”

9. Avoid Accusations

Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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You could say:

  • “We all make mistakes.”
  • “I know you did your best.”
  • “I don’t hold it against you.”

10. Take Responsibility

More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

You could say:

  • “I should have . . .”
  • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

11. Time it Right

Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

12. Use Their Name

When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

You could say:

  • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
  • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

13. Suggest, Don’t Order

When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

You could say:

  • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
  • “Try it this way.”
  • “Are you on board with that?”

14. Be Brief

Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

15. Follow Up

Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

You could say:

  • “I wanted to recap . . .”
  • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
  • “Did that make sense?”

16. Expect Improvement

Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

You could say:

  • “I’d like to see you . . .”
  • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
  • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
  • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

17. Give Second Chances

Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

You could say:

  • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
  • “I’d love to see you try again.”
  • “Let’s give it another go.”

Final Thoughts

Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

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