Deadlines. Commitments. Obligations. Time constraints. Terrorists. Business and personal goals. Wait a minute! Did I say terrorists?
What were your sources of stress on September 10, 2001? How well did you communicate with your colleagues, staff, managers, supervisors, family and friends? How have your answers to these questions changed since September 11, 2001?
Using skills that enable you to communicate effectively at home and in business is an ongoing and life-long practice. When you are stressed you are less inclined to use skills that may not come naturally to you. You are more inclined to mis-communicate - or not communicate at all - with those who need your communications the most. Regularly practice good communication skills to make them an integral part of your behavior. You can call upon those skills "naturally" when you most need them.
Some of us thrive on short-term stress. Our adrenaline levels increase and we become more productive. Others of us "stress-out" and feel tense, fear, pressure, anxiety or other stressful feelings. Over the long term however, even the most stress-hungry person can feel fatigue, exhaustion, depression, burnout, or breakdown when experiencing long periods of stress in uncertain times. We usually have to communicate with other people when we least feel like doing so.
Here are some suggestions for how to communicate in stressful situations.
Gain control of your voice. People can hear panic, concern, uncertainty, and fear in your voice when your words say otherwise. Make an extra effort to keep your voice calm by closing your eyes and taking a couple of deep breaths before you speak. Telling people to calm themselves when your own voice communicates "be afraid" exacerbates the situation.
Keep your body in check. Try not to pace back and forth as pacing communicates nervousness. Avoid clutching objects because clutching indicates fear. Nervous tics become more pronounced when you are under stress. They are difficult, if impossible, to control but some people can control tics when they focus on trying to do so. Remember that your body language reveals more about your stressful feelings than the words you speak.
Plan ahead. If you are not usually a contingency planner, become one. Talk with your colleagues, staff, and management to document a plan for contending with emergencies. Plans do not have to be elaborate. The two key points are to talk with others and to do.
When under stress or in stressful situations, our ability to communicate well and often allows us to manage and help others deal with the situation. Like public safety personnel who take appropriate action "without thinking", so must we increase our communication with others when emergencies arise. Again, keep in mind these three tips to help you communicate more effectively when under stressful conditions: Gain control of your voice. People can hear panic, concern, uncertainty, and fear in your voice when your words say otherwise. Keep your body in check. Try not to pace back and forth as pacing communicates nervousness. Avoid clutching objects because clutching indicates fear. Last but not least, Plan ahead. If you are not usually a contingency planner, become one.