The words you use can affect your outlook. It's hard to get stressed if you make the best of a bad experience or laugh at terrible luck that's beyond your control. But if you curse, stomp your foot or shake your head in disgust, you will work yourself up into a stress-induced frenzy.
- Think before you talk, especially when you feel annoyed, pressured or threatened. Treat silence as your ally; use it as a cushion to absorb the situation. Then choose the most advantageous response. Lashing out can lead you to say things that will not only increase your stress, but also alienate everyone within earshot.
- Adopt a low-stress communication style by following these guidelines:
- Replace cynicism with questions. One snide comment can heighten your stress and spread ill will in your workplace. If you're tempted to strike a cynical tone, stop! Instead, ask a non-judgmental, open-ended question. Example: Rather than sarcastically say, "Hey Einstein, that was a brilliant plan," ask in a polite tone, "Can you elaborate on that plan so I can understand it better?"
- Ban the words "always," "never" and "worst." Overstating your point can breed hopelessness in yourself and those around you. Contribute to a calmer, more rational discussion by speaking in more balanced terms. Example: Rather than say, "You never listen to me!," say in a soft but firm tone, "I'd appreciate your letting me finish."
- Disagree without disagreement. It's often stressful to express disagreement, especially if you anticipate that others will put up a fight. Beware of blurting out, "You're wrong!" or "That's ridiculous!" Such impulsive comments can provoke an argument. A milder way to disagree is to say, "I'd like to share a concern with you." Then, before you continue, pause to make sure the other person is ready and willing to listen.