The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs.
You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it.
There are only people engaged in stressful thinking. – Wayne Dyer
Deadlines, deadlines and more deadlines, this has been my life in the past couple of years due to a very difficult, challenging and intricate project.
Everyone in the office is pulling their hair out as the client’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) keep finding new and ‘creative’ ways to change their original brief and technical recommendations and now it has become a vicious circle.
It is almost like they keep changing their minds on purpose, but it is not so, when one works in a project of that magnitude and scope, there are things likely to go ‘amiss’ during the planning stages, and somehow these missing pieces are compounding to become an eternal barrage of modifications.
This is my life, the customer gets what he pays for and we make sure they do get that and more.
How do I keep sane during this challenging period?
These are some suggestions on how I keep my sanity during times of stress. Whether you are a Designer or not these principles can cross-pollinate to other industries and occupations, they are as follow:
Be like water my friend – Bruce Lee
I love Karate and Martial Arts in general, and Bruce Lee’s advice transcends age and time.
When we become rigid in our attitudes there is no room for adjustment and sometimes we have to allow some ‘wiggle room’ in order to accomplish our objectives.
Life, career and love will throw a few curve balls and by being docile we accept sometimes we have to take a different path to get to our goals and it is far less stressful if we keep an open mind.Advertising
I use humor (laugh, laugh, laugh)
It is encouraged in the Special Forces to use humor to channel stress and keep a positive state of mind even when there seems no way out.
Laughter releases ‘endorphins’ which is our inbuilt happy drug, this helps us prolong our lives and improve our health when it’s naturally released and laughter is the key.
I have a favorite comedian; the late Robyn Williams, he had this ability to make anyone laugh with the simplest of skits.
Eddie Murphy’s ‘Raw’ and ‘Delirious’ always help me snap out of a grim spell, Eddie takes me back to when I was a teen.
If I am in a real desperate need for a laugh, Dave Chapelle’s old comedy shows cracks me right up.
Read about role models and draw inspiration from them
When I am stuck in a ‘hole’, I find inspiration from reading the following Greats:
Sir Norman Foster – Architecture
Daniel Libeskind – Architecture
Frank Lloyd Wright – Architecture
Leonardo Da Vinci – Inventor, Artist, Architect
Stephan Sagmaister – Graphic and Visual DesignAdvertising
Max Miedinger – Swiss Graphic Designer and Typographist
Ken Done – Australian painter and artist
Jean-Michel Basquiat – Painter (RIP)
Don Norman – UX and Human Centered Design
Stanley Kubric – Cinematographer
Tony Robbins – Life coach and entrepeneur.
Wayne Dyer – Spiritual teacher
Neil Kramer – Modern Day Philosopher
I find reading about these inspiring gentlemen a real treat for my soul, they are my role models and I would try to adopt as many of their qualities as I can. I picture myself in their position and that makes me feel better about myself.
Exercise and Sports
I love Karate and I also have a gym set up at home, and after a stressful day in the office my wife and I find ourselves working out together listening to music we both like.
Not only do we channel all the frustration and negativity out, but funny enough we bond and find solutions to many challenges we are seeking answers to.
When you spend most of the day staring at a computer screen, there is not a lot of movement taking place, there is a slight muscle atrophy and if under constant duress (as most graphic designers) aches and pains will develop.
By ‘moving’ we also focus on the activity at hand, we clear our thoughts and like a computer we dump useless information that no longer serve us.Advertising
Spend time in nature
Spend time in the woods or at the beach, take yourself away from the city and you will see how wonderful it feels to leave it all behind, whether for a few hours, a day, long weekend or a few.
In Melbourne, we are very lucky we have small parks in every suburb, and I go for a walk every morning tea time for 20 minutes when the weather is good.
Not only is it a good ‘pick me up’ during the day, but it is nice to see other people doing the same, we usually say good morning and it is a great way to bond with other people and is specially extra nice when they take the time to ask you how you are going.
Reward yourself for those little wins
When you have a ‘breakthrough’ reward yourself, it doesn’t need to be something big, it can be something as small as a cup of coffee, a muffin, buying lunch or a quick drink after work.
Why reward yourself? Because, it gives you motivation for the next win, re-enforces positive behaviour (good habits) and also makes the effort worth the while.
It is also good on a psychological level because ‘all work and no play, makes your world all grey’ this is my own variation, feel free to use it.
Find your tribe, support network
When the chips are down it is important to have people who will support you and give you that much needed assist to get you out of the mess.
It is important to gravitate to people who have a positive attitude because not only will they be willing to help you, they are likely to have others like them who can potentially come to your aid.
If you have a ‘tribe’ you are a lucky person, but if you don’t, find solutions because they operate at a higher vibration.
If you want to grow, do not spend time with negative people, as they have a problem for every solution, life is way too short.
You are not your just your job
Society has taught us we have to define ourselves with what we do for a living and this has originated since the beginning of civilization.
This is where a lot of Old English surnames or last names come from: Tailor, Blacksmith, Arrowsmith, Spinner, Weaver, Baker, Clark, Carter etc.Advertising
Think about it this way, you are way more than your occupation, you are a father, mother, brother, sister, friend, grandpa, grandma, etc. and there is no one else like you in the world, and even if they could clone you there would be a few differences here and there.
When down, I remember I am the winning sperm out of 400,000,000 others.
When I am facing challenges, I remind myself I am the winning sperm out of 400,000,000 and if I made it here I can pretty much accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.
I constantly ask the question: ‘How can I be of a greater service to others’ and one of the answers so far is to be kind, compassionate and caring to other people.
But my burning question is: ‘How can I become better at whatever I do’ that is, having the greatest impact, because this transcends occupation, this delves into the realm of purpose and my own mission in life.
Connecting to ‘Source’
This puts things in perspective and helps me raise my vibration, connection to source, God, Yahweh, or whoever you believe in.
I am not preaching Religion, I am preaching ‘Faith’ in yourself and your ability to manifest what you want in life with the help of our Divine Creator regardless of what you call him or her.
We have to start listening to that inner voice and block out all the noise around us, the TV, news, ads, internet, smartphone, sex, drug, rock’n’roll, Justin Beaver, Kylie Minogue, etc. are craving for our attention, and sometimes we need to block them out to listen to your own voice.
There are many people out there who think (preach) to know the truth, but have they ever walked a mile in your shoes? Unless they have, how do they know is best for me or you?
You and I are in control of our own destiny
And as a last point, we have been taught we have no power over our own lives, but it is not true, we have the power to make anything happen, all we have to do is to have a vision, develop a plan/strategy and be willing to work hard for it.
By bettering myself and improving my skills I feel more confident about the future and takes away a lot of the uncertainty I feel about the future, every person at some point is concerned about the future, take charge and manifest a better tomorrow by improving yourself now.
If you feel you are stuck in your job, do some online courses, every skill counts and it will look favorable on you CV. Believe it or not, studying has helped me focus on other things rather than the stress of work as it has given me the skills and confidence to solve problems at a higher level.
If you have any other ways you deal with stress, please comment below, let us get the conversation started.
Last Updated on May 21, 2019
How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship
For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.
If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:
You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.
You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.
In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.
You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.
People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.
You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.
You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.
The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.
You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.
Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.
If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.
Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:
- Understand your own communication style
- Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
- Communicate with precision and care
- Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger
1. Understand Your Communication Style
To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.
In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.
Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.
2. Learn Others Communication Styles
Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.
If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:
“How do you prefer to receive information?”
This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.
To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.
3. Exercise Precision and Care
A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.
On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.
Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.
I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.
I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.
In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.
The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.
Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.
4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger
Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.
In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,
“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”
Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.
Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.
It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.
It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.
It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.
Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.
Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.
The Bottom Line
When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.
I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.
More Articles About Effective Communication
- Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- 7 Most Important Communication Techniques to Master in the Workplace
Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com
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