Conflict in Meetings

How to Manage Conflict in Meetings

Conflict in Meetings

In this article you can find a summary of effective and proven strategies to handle conflict in meetings. This is a very useful skill and it’s a good idea to prepare in advance for such events.

Facilitating Conflict Meetings

If you are chairing a meeting, here are a number of ways to manage potential conflict effectively:

  1. Prepare the meeting well and have a clear agenda. If people see that you chair the meeting firmly and tightly against the agenda, they are less inclined to engage into conflicts on-the-side.
  2. Watch out for the early signs of conflict. It is much better to handle conflict proactively. To this end, monitor closely the dynamics of the meeting and watch the body language of participants. There are tell signs of tension, frustration and disagreements that usually precede a conflict. Watch-out especially for signs of nervousness, facial expressions of disagreement and so on.
  3. Drive clarity. Effective communication is key for a good meeting. It is not uncommon for a conflict to develop as a result of a misunderstanding. Use clarification questions to make sure everybody is on the same page.
  4. Deal with conflict immediately. Once you spot the clear signs of a conflict, you need to deal with it. Don’t let it develop in an uncontrolled manner. See the “meeting conflict resolution” section below for the specific strategies to apply, depending on the situation.
  5. Support a non-threatening environment. People often initiate conflict when they feel their position is threatened directly or indirectly by others. Ambiguity may also lead to this, as it is can also be perceived as threatening. Try to create a feeling of safe environment. Pay attention when the discussions take a turn that can make a participant or more feel threatened.
  6. Recognize the different types of conflict and act accordingly. Conflicts may be driven by different views, by different hidden agendas, but sometimes simply by personality clashes, different values and beliefs. In the latter cases, there is no point to attempt to make people like each other. Simply be firm in keeping the meeting on-track and ask everybody to focus on the specific agenda items.
  7. Be non-judgmental. Your role is to remain objective and consider the perspective of each party. Don’t take sides and support everybody to reach resolution.

How to Manage Conflict as a Meeting Participant

Here are a few tips to consider for when you don’t chair the meeting:

  • Manage stakeholders well. The best way to manage conflict is to preempt it. When you participate in high stakes meetings, in which you need to get approval or influence others to do something, start preparing the meeting well in advance. You need to get the support of the key stakeholders, to avoid any unpleasant surprises in the meeting.

  • Keep calm. In a meeting anything can happen. You can be taken by surprise by unfair criticism, you can be attacked by people from whom you expected support and so on. In all cases keep calm. When you stay cool your ability to manage challenging situations well is higher

  • Be assertive. If other participants in the meeting attack you, don’t get defensive, not aggressive. Assertiveness is the most effective approach. Keep discussions factual and to the point and demand a professional and respectful approach in the conversation.

Should You Avoid All Conflicts? Can You Capitalize on Conflict to Get to Better Results?

Wherever there are several people, there will be conflicting points of view, so conflicts can’t be totally avoided. The interesting part is that via putting together ideas that approach a topic from various angles, sometimes you get to a solution that is better. So sometimes, conflict (handled in a professional manner) can lead to better results.

It is not conflict per se that needs to be avoided, but situation in which conflicts are not managed well. The results in such cases are unlikely to be positive.

Meeting Conflict Resolution

In order to manage conflict, you can put to good use the following strategies:

Drive focus on the problem

Conflict is often triggered or develops into personal attacks. Once the play is in this field, it’s impossible to control effectively the situation. You need to determine participants to refer to the problem, not to other persons. Even if the specific topic is about people, stick to the facts. Even if discussions become factual, there may still be different views on the facts. So the conflict may actually continue. However, dropping personal attacks removes the steam out of the conversation and conflicting points of view can be managed in a professional way.

Support actionable approaches

When a conflict arises, there is the tendency for people to enter a vicious circle. They express their disagreement, their unhappiness with how things are going and they argue with one another. Help participants focus on the next steps. What is the information that needs to be made available in order for the matter to be clarified? What are the actions that need to be taken in order for the blocking points to be removed?

Agree to disagree

There are instances in which it is simply not possible to reach an agreement among the parties present in the meeting. When it’s obvious that an agreement is not possible, there is no point in spending a lot of time arguing. Agree to disagree. Then, agree on the next steps in order to bring closure to that matter. For example, this may mean escalating the issue to the right level of management, so that a decision is made and the project can move forward.

Take things “off line”

If the conflict is only between two or more participants, but it doesn’t concern all members of the group, it’s better to take things “off line”. The same applies if the conflict is triggered by something totally unrelated to the agenda. The call of how appropriate this approach is should be made on a need basis.

Photo by: MrDevlar

Tips for Leadership

Team Leadership Tips

Tips for Leadership

What is Leadership?

In simple terms, leadership is the activity of leading a group of people.

Behind the simple definition, there is a lot of complexity though. And despite leadership being such buzz word, genuine leadership is not that common.

There are a number of common traits and behaviors most true leaders display. Let’s explore the most important ones in the tips for leadership below. Thus, you can take action to improve your leadership abilities in the most effective way.

Team Leadership Tips

  1. Have a vision. This goes almost without saying, as having a vision is an essential part of being a leader. This is the foundation of leadership, so it needs to be extremely sound. Make sure that you develop a clear, powerful and inspiring vision.

  2. Walk the talk. People respond better to the power of example. Exemplify the behaviors that bring your vision to life. Take action that is congruent with what you say. People will follow.

  3. Let the passion shine through. It’s hard to inspire people if you don’t fully believe in something. Good leaders display genuine passion and people definitely notice and respond to that.

  4. Inspire your followers. In order to determine people to take action, you need to provide a level of inspiration that is high enough to motivate them. Design a recognition and reward system that makes them feel a part of the vision.

  5. Cherish integrity. Tricks can only work short time when it comes to leadership. People feel when someone is fair and has their best interest at heart. Stick to the principles, even if it’s sometimes difficult.

  6. Display courage in facing fear and adversity. In order to achieve anything worthwhile, you need to face adversity, change and risk. Get right to the core of issues and get them solved. This is the only way to go forward as a leader.

  7. Grow your people. Support you team to develop, as this is a win-win situation. When you support people to grow, their motivation level goes through the roof.

Leadership Tips for First Time Managers

When you are in a management position for the first time, you are also expected to provide leadership for the team. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re on the right track:

  1. Coach yourself. Ask yourself where you are in terms of leadership. What type of leader are you? What are your strengths and opportunities of further development? Get support to improve in the areas you need to grow further.

  2. Focus on developing effective communication skills. Communication is key. As a leader you need to master this art in order to inspire, influence and drive action.

  3. Be a source of positive energy. People need to look up to a leader that is upbeat, energetic and positive. This will make them feel full of energy, as well.

  4. Encourage team interaction and contribution. Leaders are also supposed to facilitate interaction and drive team participation. Such an approach leads to higher team commitment and better results.

  5. Be approachable. Stay close to your team and be open to their ideas. This approach encourages creativity and motivates people, as they feel listened to and empowered.

  6. Address performance issues in the right way. Performance issues need to be dealt with firmly and without delay. However, do it from a standpoint of supporting the other to grow and motivate him to over-deliver. If this approach does not work, take the necessary measures. However, always start from the presumption that you can provide help and inspiration, in order to enable the others to reach their best potential and dramatically improve performance.

  7. Use failures as valuable lessons to progress further. Many managers are afraid of failure, as they perceive them as a sign of poor performance. The only way not to fail though is to stay inside your comfort zone and not make any progress. And this is a huge failure mid-long term. Don’t be afraid to experiment, to try new routes, to take approaches nobody else thinks about. Use every failure as a great lesson to move forward.

  8. Show respect. An employee is not a computer, but a human being. Don’t ever forget to treat people with the same respect that you want in return.

  9. Take (also) a long term view on things. If you developed a sound vision, don’t think that you’re done with the visionary part of your leadership responsibilities. A leader needs to always look beyond the immediate projects. Keep the long term perspective in mind. Does you vision need adjustment? Have you stumbled upon something big that you need to explore further? Stay a few steps ahead of anybody else around you.

  10. Be humble. Don’t let success get to your head. This is a great danger. Everything around us changes very fast and we need to adapt. What worked yesterday may not necessarily work tomorrow. You need to lead the way towards what is working tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. There’s no place for complacency into your schedule.

Leadership Tips from Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs has made a huge impact in modern history, displaying a leadership that inspired not only the employees in his companies, but the entire world.

  • Innovation. The first player in a field has a tremendous advantage over everyone else. He is the leader. Steve was repeatedly a few steps ahead competition. He brought to the world the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad.

What can we learn from this? Think differently, don’t necessarily take the same route as everybody else. Take a fresh approach and don’t be afraid to try new things.

  • Make the impossible possible. Steve is famous for not easily accepting the constraints of what most people deem as “possible”. For example, he made Steve Wozniak develop a game within four days, after being told it would take a few months. There are a lot of examples of him pushing people to do the “impossible”. “Yes, you can do it” he would say.

What can we learn from this? Don’t take no for an answer and don’t make excuses to explain why something can’t be done. Just go ahead and do it. Find a way. If there’s no way, create one. When you are really determined to make something happen, it’s amazing what it’s possible, despite any adversity you may face.

  • Simplicity. Apple products are famous for their simplicity, both in terms of design and user experience overall.

What can we learn from this? Simplicity is powerful. Don’t get caught into details. Focus instead of the core 80/20 elements that drive success.

Photo by: VideoVik

 

Fear of Missing Out

FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out

Let me ask you a question. How many cool updates are there every day in your Facebook newsfeed?

Everybody seems to live the good life. Then the media also presents endless opportunities to pursue. We get tons of social media inputs showing how other do this and that, have fun, live life to the max, explore exotic places and new cultures, pursue passions, have amazing experiences and achieve impossible results.

What Does Fear of Missing Out Mean?

Fear of missing out or F.O.M.O. is a type of anxiety, a concern people have that there are opportunities they may miss, that others enjoy more rewarding experiences than they do.

The Fear of Missing Out in Life

The fear of missing out disorder is spreading at fast pace, also as a result of the fact that we are bombarded with evidence that others live a great life. As you don’t feel that your life is matching up, you are in danger by being grabbed by the FOMO monster.

Fear of Missing Out Social Anxiety

Don’t engage into doing something, just to be accepted by others. A type of FOMO is related to your perceived status among your peers. For fear of not facing social rejection, you may be tempted to engage into actions you don’t really want to, just to get points in terms of social acceptance.

Think about what is important for you and don’t compromise like this, as you don’t have time to waste into your life.

You should spend time with people that you feel a good connection with, anyway. If you need to go to great lengths in order to be accepted, it’s a good idea to look elsewhere for company. So not really a lot to miss out.

Fear of missing out on fun is also rooted in the social aspect of our life. This what makes us stay at a party although we would rather go home or go to an event just because everybody in our social circle does so.

Social interaction is important. However, make sure that you set things on the right basis. You should not feel that you make sacrifices and need to give-up on your needs and wishes in order to be accepted by your peers.

FOMO and Your Work

When it comes to business opportunities or career development, there are also a lot of options to pursue.

This leads to getting involved into too many projects and to over-commitment. This is why it’s important to analyze things in-depth and get to the root cause of a problem. In this case, if you face a time management challenge caused by over-commitment, it help if you discover that at a deeper level, this is actually caused by FOMO. You will only solve the problem successfully if you address its root cause.

Are There Any Benefic Effects of FOMO?

Despite the negative connotations, within certain limits, FOMO has also some benefits.

Fear of missing out prevents you from being complacent. It forces you to think about ways in which you can improve the current status of things.

Consequently, fear of missing out may motivate us to take action which usually leads to progress in a number of areas in our lives.

The key though is to keep your eyes open and take control of your FOMO. When you start to go beyond the slight concern stage, right into deep anxiety, it’s time to do something about it.

The problem is the FOMO triggers a set of behaviors that can impact your life significantly. You can start spending a lot of time engaged in activities that were triggered by fear of missing out. Your overall productivity may decline. You are in danger to pay less attention and spend less energy moving forward in important areas of your life.

How to Overcome Fear of Missing Out

If you wonder how to deal with fear of missing out, there are a number of powerful tips that can help with that.

  1. Recognize that the perception you have is misleading. All those social media updates present a series of highs in people’s life. Because most of them are so amazing, you are led into thinking that this are the regular ways things are. It’s not true. They are exceptions that are disguised into everyday activities. It’s an artificial universe. The people you see living the magic life also have their lows. If you think about the whole truth behind the glamor, you can develop a more realistic perception.

  2. Be clear on your values, life purpose and priorities. Another common case leading to FOMO is the fact that there are so many opportunities available in any field. If you don’t have a clear direction, it’s difficult to find your way through a maze of potential options. To make things worse, it also seems that the pasture is greener on the other side. Similarly to the first point we discussed above, this is an illusion. The principles are the same. Anything worthy requires a lot of sacrifices. You need to work hard, spend resources and face adversity. With few exceptions, there is no such thing as easy gains.

  3. Go on information detox. A large part of FOMO sufferers are afraid to miss on information. This is what triggers compulsive checking of news sources and updates. Do you really need to stay updated every few hours with what is happening out there? Think about the huge time spent doing this. It’s true that “quick checking” the latest updates does not take a lot of time, but doing a large number of checks adds up massively. Unless you objectively need to stay connected 24/7 and continuously stay updated with what’s going on, set limits!

Photo by: Eric Rice

Happy in Life

How to Be Happy in Life

Happy in LifeMost of us pursue happiness, right?

Sometimes I have a little fun and out of the blue, I throw at people the “Are you happy?” question. Guess what?

Very few say “yes” without any hesitation.

Is it really that difficult to be happy?

What are the drivers of happiness and how can we capitalize on them to be happier?

What Does Happy Feel Like?

I guess you can remember a happy moment from your life. Most probably it is related to someone or something that you love.

You felt like time was frozen and you had a big smile on your face. Life was great.

Unfortunately, that feeling did not last forever…

Which brings us to the next question.

What Does It Take to Be Happy?

We are living under the tyranny of expectations and future projections. We believe we need to have this object, that experience. We need to be with that special one. And THEN, we will be happy.

The problem is that this is a continuously moving target. Even if we get what we want, the intensity of the joy we feel will fade away. It’s just a question of time until we get used to the new status. And then we are back into the race, chasing other experiences, relationships, more money and more objects.

Start living in the present. Enjoy every little moment of your life. Don’t live in the past or in the future and don’t condition your happiness on having this and that.

The Biggest Secret to Happiness

I believe the biggest secret is to follow your heart, stay true to yourself and go after your dreams.

A blog post I read recently covered the top regrets people have when they die. Guess what was sitting at number one?

Not following their dreams…

Don’t live the life of others, trying to tick what is socially recognized as “success”. You don’t need to work extra long hours to make more money, to buy things you don’t have time to use. They will not make you happy in the first place.

Don’t struggle to build a career in a field you hate. It is never too late to reignite the fire within and make your dreams come true.

Tips to Get Happy

If you’re looking for ideas to bring more happiness into your life, here you are:

  • Cultivate relationships with people you “connect” with. We are social beings and the interaction with others is important. When we are around people we love, around positive people we have a deep connection with, the world seems to be a better place. Cultivate these relationships.
  • Find your life purpose. When you lack direction and meaning in your life, it’s very difficult to feel happy. Dedicate some time to clarify what are your values and life purpose. It is totally worth it.
  • Simplify your life. Our modern hectic lives can get a bit crazy sometimes. If you own too many things, you have a lot to worry about. If you over-commit your time, your stress levels will likely go through the roof. Slow down, simplify everything and enjoy life more.
  • Don’t identify yourself with your possessions and/or with your actions. These are part of your life, but you are so much more than that. Your value as a human being is not given by how much money you have in the bank or by how fast you climb the career ladder.
  • Take time to appreciate the small things in life. Enjoy the sunset, a smile, a favorite song, smelling a flower, playing with your pet, taking a walk.
  • Think positively. Life is full of challenges, but you are better off if you don’t make a drama out of everything. Focus on the next steps when you face a problem and don’t keep negativity with you. Solve it and move on. The more positive you stay, the more positivity you attract.

How to Be Happy with What You Have

The truth is that you can feel happy with what you have, doing what you do, being exactly who you are. This is because it’s just a question of mindset.

I admit that there are times when life is difficult. If you think about all the different roles you play though, you are experiencing problems, big or small at any point in time in at least an area of your life.

Thus, if you are at the mercy of circumstances, you will be waiting a long time to be happy.

And funny enough, if we do get to a point where we have no issues, we are not happy because of what we don’t have yet or because of FOMO (fear of missing out).

If you think about it though, what prevents you from being happy is not an event in itself, but your reaction to it. It is not the lack of money, not having a fast sports car or not being involved in a happy relationship that makes you unhappy.

So, if it is your reaction to external stimuli that impacts the way you feel, this is great news. It means that you can take control. If you shift perspective and embrace a new mindset, you can be happier as of today.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Don’t wait until you achieve this or that in order to allow yourself to feel happy. How about deciding right now that you will not depend on external factors to be happy?

Can You Be Happy As a Single?

Being in a fulfilling relationship is important for most people. Therefore, when you are not in such a relationship, you may find it difficult to feel happy.

It’s very true that sharing feelings and experiences with a significant other can add a lot to your life.

On another hand, if you don’t have this into your life at this moment, it is not a reason to feel miserable, unless you allow this to happen.

And it is not the presence of “the other” that should be the primary reason for you to be happy. This would lead to a clingy behavior that doesn’t serve both of you.

How to Live a Happy Life Alone

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. You can feel lonely even if you are in a relationship or if you are surrounded by a lot of people.

You can definitely be happy with yourself. Don’t deny your right to enjoy life, love, amazing experiences and all the great things in the world.

Don’t focus on the fact that you miss someone in your life, but on making the most out of every single second of your life. When you project positivity, you will attract beneficial experiences that may also include meeting your other half.

How to Be Happy at Work

As you spend a large part of your life at work, I think it is important to do work that is meaningful to you. Ideally, you should do something that you are really passionate about. This may not always possible, but strive for it.

To a minimum, I think you should get away from a work that you hate, if you are in such a situation. Selling your soul for money is not a good idea.

Even if it’s not possible short term, make a plan to go for your dreams. Or at least for a work that you like, even if this means to earn less or accept a career setback.

When you work on something that is in tune with your values and with your passion, it is far easier to feel happy.

How Exercise Makes You Happy

OK, maybe saying that exercising makes you happy is a bit of an overstatement. However, exercising definitely makes you feel good. Do it regularly and you will see that it’s a great mood booster.

How to Be a Happy Couple

Relationships are complex and how to create a happy relationship is a quite comprehensive topic.

However, I would like to share with you my top tips.

  1. The first one is that you need to make sure you’re in the right relationship. It would be difficult to be happy if your significant other is not someone you feel a deep connection with. Otherwise, what would be the point to be in this type of relationship, anyway?
  2. Secondly, if you are in the right relationship, then drop the expectations you have on your partner. You know what I’m talking about. That he should change, that he should do that, that he should show you love in this or that way. Drop all these expectations and simply offer a lot of love yourself. Only good things will happen, trust me.
  3. Stop letting the small stuff get in the way of fully enjoying your relationship. Things are never perfect, but if you are beside the right person, be happy. The challenges you face are not there to prevent you from being happy, but for you to solve them together with your partner.

Don’t postpone feeling happy until you address each and every challenge in your life. Be happy now!

Photo by: tricky (rick harrison)

Work Stress Burnout

Job Stress Burnout

Work Stress Burnout

Nowadays everyone is in danger to burnout, given the fast paced work environments and the high number of challenges we need to face.

The common perception is that you reach the burnout stage as a result of working excessively, in a stressful environment. Job stress burnout, right? This is not far from the truth, but there is more to it than that.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a complex reaction of emotional and physical exhaustion induced by chronic stress.

So burnout is a longer term reaction. If you are experiencing simply a bad day or week at work, this is quite common. However, when there are factors that cause you high stress levels, frustration and exhaustion long term, you need to pay attention.

How do you know if you’re burned out?

There are a few tell signs that you have reached the burnout stage:

  • Chronic exhaustion. You start to feel tired all the time and you don’t have emotional resources to cope easily with yet another week full of problems and stress at work.
  • Low Productivity. Even if this is not something that was common for you before, you tend to have low productivity on a regular basis. Moving complex projects forwards feels daunting.
  • Cynicism. This is a reaction towards work when you are disgruntled. You engage into making cynical comments when it comes to the company, your boss and/or your work.

What are the most common work burnout causes?

  • Overwhelming job demands. You may feel overwhelmed due to the excessive workload, too tight deadlines and/or due to not having the right skill level to perform the job.

  • Lack of social support. When you lack support from your boss or from your colleagues it’s hard to keep your emotional energy levels high.

  • Values and fairness related issues. If you feel that you are not treated in a fair way by your boss or if your role responsibilities are in conflict with your values, you feel more and more frustrated, each day.

  • Lack of proper awards. In order to have a healthy relationship with your work, you need to feel that you receive the right financial, social and intrinsic awards. If they are missing, you feel under-appreciated, especially if you are working hard.

  • Office politics. Office politics can be a tricky game, but it’s not as bad if you take care and actively manage your stakeholders well. Read: How to Survive Office Politics.

What are the job stress burnout effects?

I have already touched upon the main effects above. However, I think it’s worth to take a look at a more comprehensive list of symptoms.

The idea is that the sooner you can spot you are in danger of becoming burned out, the better. You need to start taking action, otherwise it’s just a matter of time until things will go worse.

Here are a few of the burnout tell signs to watch out for:

  • Chronic exhaustion

  • Low productivity

  • Apathy

  • Low job satisfaction

  • Irritability

  • Depressive tendencies

  • Cynicism

  • Chronic demotivation

  • Lack of engagement with your work

Irrespective of any tell signs, if going to work in the morning feels like a burden for a prolonged period of time, investigate further. You have probably already reached the burnout stage.

What Is the Difference Between Stress and Burnout?

Stress and burnout are related, but they are not the same thing.

So what is the difference?

Stress is generally characterized by over-engagement, intense emotions, loss of energy and a tendency to become anxious.

Burnout on another hand is related to disengagement, loss of motivation, loss of hope and direction and a tendency to become depressive.

How to Prevent Burnout

You need to become effective at managing stress. This is the key measure to protect yourself. Read: 101 tips to beat stress.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Exercise regularly. Exercising has a positive effect on your mood. It also increases your resistance to stress, so it’s one of the best actions you can take.
  • Learn relaxation techniques. Ten minutes of meditation in the morning and in the evening can do wonders. Even a few simple breathing exercises can help ease away the tension.
  • Dedicate time to a hobby. You don’t necessarily need to spend massive amounts of time with this, but a hobby can greatly boost your mood.
  • Set limits. There is no limit to the amount of work you can do, unless you set one. You need to realize that each time you overwork, you give-up some other important part of your life. You do need time to grow, to relax, to be around your loved ones.

Stress Burnout Recovery

It is far better to recognize burnout signs early and take vigorous action to avoid it.

However, if you already reached this stage, recognize that burnout is an alarm signal that something is not working in an important area of your life.

On one hand, you need to take the right action to heal and recover. On another hand, this is an opportunity to rebuild the foundation of your life. Yes, it can be a painful process. However, the changes it triggers may lead you to live a much more fulfilling life.

  • Slow down. Immediately upon becoming aware that you reached the burnout stage, you need to slow down. This is a must. Find ways to cut on your commitments and cut as many stress sources as possible from your life. If feasible, take a vacation.

  • Get support from your close ones. If there is a time when you need support from your family and your friends, this is it. It is quite common to have the tendency to withdraw and stay by yourself. However, resist this tendency, because deep down you do need the emotional support from others.

  • Take time to reconsider your life priorities. Dedicate time to clarify your life purpose, your values and priorities. It is very probable that you reached burnout as a result of not living in accordance with your values. This is your wake-up call! You may need to change your career, your job or make some other big impact decision. Take your time before making any changes. You don’t need to drive even more stress into your life now. But start doing your homework, so that you can make the right moves when you are ready.

 

Photo by: Marsmettnn Tallahassee

 

 

Stress at Work

Ways to Reduce Stress at Work

Stress at Work

I had my share of stress at work and I know how big of an impact this can have on your life. Let’s face it, you spend quite some time working, right? There will be a lot of stressful situations coming your way. That’s why I thought it’s worth exploring a number of great ways to reduce stress at work.

10 Tips to Reduce Work Related Stress

It’s not realistic to expect you can completely eliminate stressful situations. However, you can reduce it significantly if you put to good use the tips below:

  1. Do work you love. This is the most powerful tip of all. When you love what you do, you don’t even feel like working. It’s far easier to face challenges and succeed in anything you pursue, despite adversity. This may not apply to you right now. However, think about it. What if you make all the changes in your life so that you start doing what you love?

  2. Stress-busting rituals. I’ve used this with great success. Have a morning, pre-work ritual that fills you up with positive energy. It can be only 5 or 10 minutes long, but it works. For example you can meditate or stretch. Then, it’s also good to have a mid-day ritual to renew energy and motivation. Take a short 5-10 minute break and so something you love. You can for example listen to a great song, take a breath of fresh air or read a few inspiring quotes.

  3. Work according to your own biorhythm. If you push yourself to the max throughout the day, you will be exhausted. We all have certain energy level patterns that if we take into account, we maximize productivity and minimize stress. If for example you work best in the morning, plan to work on your most difficult projects in the morning. Cut interruptions and focus on those projects.

  4. Don’t over-commit. This is one of the most common stress causes at work. When your to-do list is full to the max and you keep squeezing-in even more tasks, you are asking for trouble. Apply prioritization ruthlessly and allow some time for unexpected events. I know this is difficult to implement, but keep trying and you will become better at it.

  5. Avoid sleep deprivation. The quality of our sleep has a big impact on our ability to deal with stress. This is especially true long term. If you always miss a few hours of sleep per night, you will find it increasingly difficult to face stress. Moreover, your productivity goes down, which in turn generates projects delays and even more stress. So do yourself a favor and take action to put your sleep patterns in order.

  6. Don’t take yourself too seriously. A lot of of people are living a drama everyday. Hey, this is just a job in the end! Even if building a successful career is very important for you, remember one thing. You are a complex human being and life is more that your career. I’m not advocating to go to extremes, of course. Some situations are really serious and should be treated as such. But sometimes it pays off to be in-touch with your sense of humor and take it easy.

  7. Take breaks regularly. You don’t need to take long breaks, but it’s important to take them regularly. Every hour or so, take a short five minute break. Then, every few hours take a longer break. This is easy to implement and it makes a big difference in the way you feel.

  8. Take care of your body. When you take breaks, it’s not a bad idea to go for a breath of fresh air or stretch a bit. If you work in front of a computer, take a look outside the window to relax your eyes. Maybe also use some natural tear drops. Eat regularly, ideally healthy food and drink plenty of water.

  9. Manage conflicts assertively. Conflicts are likely to generate a lot of stress, so you need to have an effective approach on how to deal with them. Be constructive and assertive. There’s no benefit in spending too much of your emotional energy with this. Learn to resolve conflicts positively.

  10. Become more comfortable with ambiguity. Truth be told, it’s impossible to control everything. Therefore, you need to become more flexible in dealing with change and ambiguous situations. Accept that you don’t have full control and you will become less tensed.

How to Deal with High Pressure Work Environments

The key is to drastically reduce the impact external environment has on the way you feel. Normally, what happens around us has a big impact on our overall mood and stress level. However, the fact that this is very common, does not mean that it is a good approach. It’s just that this is the default state for everybody, unless specific action is taken to change the status quo.

The problem is that when external events determine the way you feel, you have no control. You are at the mercy of circumstances. This is an important insight, especially in the context of a high pressure environment. If you let your environment get to you, than it is for sure that your stress level will go through the roof.

First you need to recognize that you do have a choice in terms of your response to stimuli. Don’t let this happen automatically. Take control of the process. There is a small delay between anything that happens and your response.

Assess how you currently react to the high pressure work events. Then think of alternative behaviors which would be effective in terms of results, but also in terms of reducing the pressure on your side.

Let’s say for example that you have a very busy agenda and all of a sudden in the morning you have a crisis on your key project. Moreover, to top things off, your boss calls for an urgent meeting in a few hours and a VP of the company asks urgently for a report that takes a lot of work. It looks like this day will be pretty stressful, right? You would probably start to hyperventilate and feel tensed.

On one hand there is the question of what is the most effective way to manage the situation, from a time and project management points of view. However, the stress you feel is caused by the emotional reaction to the crisis and to feeling overwhelmed by too many commitments and pressures within a limited period of time.

First, put things into perspective. How important would be this crisis in 5 years time? How about in 30 years time? When something like this happens, it becomes the center of our universe. However, when we take a helicopter view and take ourselves out of the situation, we are able to keep our cool and focus on the facts and on the best way forwards.

Another step to take is to adapt quickly to changes, recognize that you are over-committed and cut, postpone and/or delegate part of the items on your agenda. Then, prioritize the rest who make in on your to-do list for the day.

These two steps will reduce the emotional impact of the situation. Then focus on calmly managing the specific tasks in the best way possible. Don’t expect to be perfect, but to be your best.

This is just an example, to illustrate the idea of creating a disconnection between the negative impact of your high pressure work environment on your emotional state. Once you achieve this, apply the generic ten stress relief tips shared above.

Is Your Relationship With Your Boss Causing You Stress?Stressful Boss

The way you interact with your boss determines to a large degree how stressed you feel at work.

Do you feel your boss treats you fairly? Do you get coaching and support? Are you demotivated? How is your current relationship with your boss?

One important element is that it is not only the boss who manages you, but it is also you who should manage your boss.

Try to understand your boss at a very deep level. Don’t think only from the perspective of a boss – direct report relationship. What are the objectives of your boss, career goals, concerns and so on?

Try to support the way your boss is perceived within the company, make a significant contribution to advancing his/her agenda and you will see how magic starts to happen for you, as well.

If this approach doesn’t work, try to find a mentor within the company, in order to get inspiration and advice.

What Are the Most Frequent Situations That Cause Stress at Work?

There are a lot of situations that can trigger stress in a work environment:

  • Excessive workload
  • Stretch timings
  • Tensed work relationships
  • Change
  • Specific problems with certain projects
    Etc

It is important to address both the factual causes and our emotional reaction to them. The first type of action reduces the pressure we feel from outside and the second type of action improves the way we handle stress inside.

In any case, getting good a managing your reaction to stressful events is a must have skill. This is completely under your control, unless stressful events, which are not.

How to Deal with Fear of Being Laid Off

The truth is that no job is safe nowadays. Going for a corporate career gave to many a false sense of security. There is no such thing. The pace of change is huge and the perspective of being laid off for various reasons is not so distant, irrespective of what you are doing.

Whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, you need an entrepreneurial approach in order to survive in today’s environment.

Here are a few ideas to alleviate stress caused by unemployment fear:

  • Try to think in advance and reduce your dependence over an employer.
  • Invest in your skills, so that it’s easier to find another job if need be.
  • Make savings, so that you feel less pressure short term if you are laid off.
  • Think of freelancing projects you could work on if you are forced to do this short term. It is totally possible to earn a full-time income via sites such as eLance.com.
  • Build several streams of income, ideally semi-passive. Have you considered building an online business on the side for example? You could work one hour per day and your efforts would add-up long-term.

Don’t let stress get to you. Put the tips above into practice and you will start to see improvements in the way you feel. Work is only a part of your life. Take action to achieve balance and you will live a more fulfilling life.

Photo by: Michael, GDS-Productions