One of the biggest challenges to establishing, and maintaining, excellent relationships online is emotions. And more often than not, it is our negative mindset, stress, or attitude that is the most significant problem. We may think that it is our Uncle Todd’s radical political views or Perfect Patty’s Pinterest posts that are the problem. But – when push comes to shove, we are our own problem. I agree – it is easier just to push the blame of a bad mood or frustrating problem on someone else. However, when it comes to social media and communication, the most significant influencer in how we understand messages and form messages is ourselves.
Where Does Stress Come From?
It seems a bit odd that I would even ask that. But – as well all know, stress comes from all over. Unfortunately, stress is not just a one-stop-shop for all your anxiety woes. In the realm of a ‘typical’ life – before many of us found ourselves practicing social distancing and spending the days “safe at home,” work was a primary stressor: deadlines, commutes, and frustrating coworkers. Then layers of additional stress from relationships, parenthood, family obligations, and the ebbs and flows of life outside of the office.
The short version is life can be hard. My dear stepmom once told me, “Life isn’t meant to be easy. We’d get bored!” And I agree with her. Challenges make life a bit more exciting. However, when stress gets the better of it, it can derail our best intentions and hold us back from the relationships and professional successes for which we are working so diligently.
Is Stress That Much Of A Problem?
Simply put – yes.
When people are stressed, even if they do not fully realize they are stressed, our go-to response is a knee-jerk reaction.
Stress makes us unaware. Unaware of ourselves and unaware of the intentions of other people. Generally speaking, this emotional awareness is called emotional intelligence, which was brought into the light in the early 2000s by Daniel Goleman. Interestingly (or not), was the basis of my Master’s Thesis back in 2005 as well. All that being said, when you are stressed, you are more likely to respond to people online – and in real life, aggressively and thoughtlessly.
In an unfortunate cycle, when you are thoughtless, you become (often unconsciously) more stressed! Stress begets stress. And, thinking about how contagious emotions are, the more stressed we are, the more stressed we make people around us.
Stress is a significant problem. And can get you wrapped up in an endless cycle of bad feelings if you do not put an end to it.
How Can I Overcome Stress and Who Will Benefit From It?
The good news is that stress and the knee-jerk reaction is entirely reversible. In general, most people are not trying to be rude. Most people do not walk around, thinking, “How can I be rude today?” (although, perhaps there are a few). It isn’t until there is some sort of disruption where we stop and think, “wait, was I out of line?” That disruption is often a mean look, another negative response, or someone calling us out on what we did or said.
There is a key to reducing stress and reducing knee-jerk reactions.
Here is the secret.
Think before you act. Think before you speak.
This requires you to take a moment to consider how others are going to perceive your behavior. Now, we can talk a lot about perception (and we will!), but it only takes a short moment to stop and consider before you act.
Ask how the people you are interacting with will respond to you? If you think your desired outcome is not likely, then you have a chance to adjust your actions.
When you adjust your actions, you will be seen in the light you want to be seen. And increase your chances of getting the message across you want to.
Simple Steps to Help Manage Stress
When considering the role of emotions in your interactions, stress management is one fundamental way to improve your interactions. When you can manage stress, you will communicate more effectively and earn a reputation for being cool, calm, collected, and an excellent decision-maker. If you stop and realize your emotions are leading a response, follow these tips.
- Take time to calm down. Take a breath. Don’t respond immediately. Gather your thoughts, process the details of the situation, ask for clarification, ask questions. Give yourself time to think about what the best way to respond is.
- Focus on communicating one core idea at a time. As listeners, we only have a limited frame of focus (and it is short!). We should clarify our position one point at a time when emotions are elevated to increase the chance of people responding to the message and not the emotion.
- Be aware of your body language. People trust our actions more than our words. Make sure your body is communicating what your message is. Maintain eye contact, speak in an even tone, choose your words carefully, breathe, and open yourself to listening to the other person’s fully before you respond.
- Be willing to clarify your position. Often, our messages are not well-received because we have not done a good job clarifying them. Part of checking our emotions is to check our messages. Review what we are saying, and be willing to adjust them, so the other person gets what we are attempting to say.
- Sometimes, the situation is untenable. Emotions cannot be immediately calmed. Messages cannot be revamped. It is a potential lose-lose situation. This is when you stop. And step back. And ask, “Can we revisit this later?” and walk away. There will always be messages, situations, and people that are not willing or immediately capable of setting their emotions aside. Sometimes that person is us! And that is acceptable as long as we are aware and know to step away and revisit the situation later.
Are You Ready To Be Accountable?
Emotions, stress, and communication are part of life. Every single day, we have to learn how to overcome stressors that are just inherent in our lives. However, learning how to communicate and elevate ourselves, brand, and businesses, even in the most stressful situations, is imperative. To learn more about how you can harness your emotions to advance your communication practices, make sure you reach out to the Word Well Group. Call 925-726-9375 or book your free 30-minute strategy session online today.