Keeping Cool When the Heat is On
July 27, 2016 by FlexPro
The dog days of summer take on a new meaning when even my dog wants no part of going out in this heat. Another day of 90+ degrees, at least here in the Philadelphia area, is leaving many of us feeling a little wilted and worn out. I know my motivation to go for a run or even just a walk has been replaced with sitting in the pool and reading a book. I’m hot, I’m tired and I’m cranky – and I’m the one who usually loves summer! We all find our ways to cope when summer starts to sizzle. Whether it’s a trip to the local pool or a nice air conditioned movie theater, when the heat is on we all need to find a way to keep our cool.
As hot as it is outside, it can get just as hot inside – and I don’t just mean temperature. Keeping your cool in the workplace when everything seems to be going wrong is sometimes harder than finding that cool spot on a hot summer day and it doesn’t just happen in the summer! Difficult clients, demanding bosses, blown deadlines, system failures or any other glitch in your otherwise perfect system can send your perfect day right down the drain. As the PM, your team is looking to you for direction. They’re counting on you to lead the team to a solution and they expect that you will do it all with a calm, cool demeanor and a smile on your face. So how do you pull it all off when you’re freaking out on the inside?
As a PM I’ve been asked before how I keep so calm during stressful situations and honestly a lot of it is just my personality. However, experience has taught me that regardless of the situation, freaking out is not a productive tool in my arsenal and in a time of crisis it won’t solve anything. Ever. It certainly won’t instill confidence in my team and will send any respect I’ve earned right out the window. So rule number one in any difficult situation, without question is “DON’T FREAK OUT”! Easier said than done, especially for those with more excitable personalities. So how do we keep our cool when the heat is on? Here’s a few tips I’ve found can help cool down those heated moments:
Walk away. Sometimes you need to stop, count to ten (or a million) take a deep breath and refocus. Take an early lunch, vent to a friend, walk around the building – whatever allows you to settle your emotions before you take any action. Reacting out of anger rarely ends well so don’t let a bad situation goad you into reacting on impulse.
Be honest. You may not have all the answers and may still be formulating a plan, but keeping your team in the loop and asking for their feedback gives everyone a vested interest in the solution.
Realize you can only control your own emotions and not the emotions of others. Accept that not everyone is going to handle dicey situations with maturity and professionalism. Focus on the problem, not the personality.
Use the situation as an opportunity to learn from the mistakes made.
I’ve also found that I’m much more able to handle the heat at work when I make time for stress relief at home. I’ve come to really appreciate and enjoy taking time to play my guitar, read a chapter or two of a book or walk the dog and watch the sunset. Nothing fancy, just simple gestures that make me happy. I know that whatever issues and stress I carry at work can infect my team like a virus. They take their cues from me and if I’m not handling a situation with professionalism, it will trickle down to them. Panic is as contagious as a yawn and nothing productive will ever come about when the entire team is going to pieces.
Keeping your cool isn’t always easy and in fact often takes a conscious effort and lots of practice. I’d love to hear about the ways that you’ve found to keep you cool when things heat up! ! Drop me a line with your best calming tips.
-Lynn Faughey, FlexPro COO