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8 Ways To Keep Calm Even If You Are Seriously Nervous.

8 Ways To Keep Calm Even If You Are Seriously Nervous.

Public speaking. Bungee jumping. Confronting a tough customer. These are just some instances which can bring chills to spines and sweat to palms.

It’s normal to feel nervous before or in the midst of an undertaking. What separates the mediocre from the remarkable is the ability to perform despite the nerves. And these are some ways to stay calm in nervous situations.

1. Acknowledge and decide

There’s no point pretending that the nerves aren’t there when you feel crippled by it. Identify it, acknowledge it and come to terms with it.

Even the best athletes feel nervous during race day. Even top notch influential speakers experience some chills before facing the crowd.

Remind yourself that it’s perfectly alright to feel nervous before taking the leap – you are human after all. However, don’t just stop there. Decide in your head that you would not allow your nerves to get the better of you.

2. Segmenting

One technique which the U.S Navy SEALs employ to thrive and operate in high-stakes and high-stress environments is segmenting, which is simply to break down a seemingly daunting task into more digestible and manageable bits.

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A former SEAL talked about how he used segmenting to get through hell week (one of the most arduous and grueling military training in the world in which trainees get no more than 4 hours of sleep over 5 and a half days): Instead of seeing how he would get through the entire day, he encouraged and committed himself to just make it through to breakfast time, then lunch time, and then dinner time.

Thus, whenever you face an overwhelming task that’s driving you nervous, break it down and work through it one bit at a time.

3. Mental rehearsals and visualization

Imagine yourself having to deliver a presentation in front of your company of 100 employees. You haven’t really spoken in public that often and you’re not even sure if you are the most eloquent or charismatic speaker in the room.

You get nervous. Extremely nervous.

At this point, many would think that everything would just fail and crumble before their very eyes – they trip while getting on stage, the projector explodes, members of the audience jeer and throw office staplers at them.

Don’t go down that path. Do something totally different.

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Perform mental rehearsals of yourself delivering a confident and compelling speech. Don’t just practice your address physically, but visualize yourself doing it in your head as well.

4. Scenario planning

In my 2 and a half years in the military, we were taught how to respond to different scenarios when we were, for instance, doing a patrol on a street or clearing a building.

The key to scenario planning is to anticipate the different scenarios which might occur and then decide your course of action when that particular scenario happens. The important thing is to decide what you are going to do even before that scenario happens, so that when it actually occurs, your response would be second nature.

For example, if we kicked down the door when storming a building, we already know how to react if an enemy pops up from a corner – we would react accordingly without hesitation. We just don’t have time to consider our options on the spot when something happens – it might be too late.

Back to the company presentation, anticipate what might possibly go wrong and come up with your course of action if it does. What do you do when you suddenly forget your points? You could have some flashcards in your pocket. What do you do when the laptop fails? You could have a spare one on standby or have a plan to proceed without using it.

5. Begin with the end in mind

When you step onto the stage to deliver your presentation, what is your ultimate purpose? What are you achieving? Why are you doing the presentation in the first place?

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Decide on your purpose and objective and keep your eyes on it. Everything else is just noise and distraction.

6. Controlled breathing techniques

It’s interesting that our body affects our minds and vice versa. When you think of fear, you end up feeling frightened. When you make yourself smile, you tend to improve your overall mood.

People who are nervous usually take short and shallow breaths. And such breathing patterns only serve to keep them nervous.

What you could do is to deliberately control your breathing by adopting what I call the 4x4x4 breathing technique.

Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds (you can count by saying in your head one-thousand, two-thousand, three-thousand, four-thousand), exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds, and then repeat that cycle for 3 more times.

7. Adopt a confident posture

Amy Cuddy’s TED talk sheds light on how our posture affects our confidence levels. She says that adopting a “power pose” – standing with your arms on your hips like Wonder Woman or your arms stretched wide – can make you feel more confident and assertive.

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When you are about to do something and you feel the nerves, go to somewhere private and take just 2 minutes to adopt a confident posture. Once done, head back out and get going!

8. Focus on the work, not the nerves

Last but not least, sometimes the best way to overcome the nerves is to take action instead of waiting for the nerves to go away.

When doing a public presentation, take a bold step forward and give the best speech you have ever given. When confronting a tough customer, pick up the phone, make the call and say what you need to say.

Don’t focus on the nerves. Focus on the work you need to do. Don’t forget why you are doing that task in the first place. Hold on to your true purpose and go for gold – the nerves don’t stand a chance!

Featured photo credit: Alex Wong via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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