Practicing What You Preach
by Robin Sacks
I am sitting at my desk on hold with AT&T for a second hour. It is making me, among others things, remind myself that I have to practice what I preach.
I coach, speak on, and write about stress management, self-leadership, and taking control on a daily basis. I am really good at helping other people stress less and get stuff done simply by focusing more on what they have control over and less on what they don't.
I believe the difference between a professional suggestion and a friendly opinion is simply this - when the same things happens to YOU, do you give yourself the same advice you would give to someone else.
If you don't, you're just a nag.
But, by choosing to practice what I preach instead, I was able to make this situation...less maddening. ;)
Here are some of the things I was able to do because I choose NOT to get hyper-focused on the insanity, and instead stay focused on what was completely in my control.
1. I found things to do. Having been on hold for more than two hours throughout this particular situation gave me a lot of time to DO things. Instead of sitting on my butt, stewing, and complaining for those two hours (which is really easy to do in these situations), I got a lot done! I folded laundry, I collected the garbage from around the house to take outside to the garbage can, I even wrote this article. :)
In other words, I shifted my focus to what I could control instead of getting stuck on what I could not control and ended up getting a lot of things checked off my to-do list!
2. I was nice to people. Knowing that most of these people I was being shuffled between are simply doing their jobs, trying to help, and following their 'script,' I made a point of not only reminding myself of that, but of letting them know that I knew that. I consciously made a point to say to each one of them something to the effect of, "John, I appreciate your help. I know that this is not your fault, but please understand that I am not happy and just want to get this resolved"
For anyone who has ever been on the other end of the line, you know that people who are remain nice, even when under stressful circumstances, are the people you WANT to help. The people who are screaming at you, even thought you are doing your best, are the ones you want to tell to go suck it (that's not the technical term, by the way).
No matter how upset you get, if you remember that the person on the other end of the line is probably doing their best, or at least what is in their control to do, they are going to be more apt to WANT to help you, and that can go a long way in getting your situation resolved.
3. I took a "future view." Taking a future view is a great way to lessen stress in the moment.
When this tactic is used in these anger inducing, seemingly ridiculous situations, it cannot only help you remain calm, but also remind you that this is really a smaller thing that you are probably making it into.
If I was hyper-focused on the fact that nobody I was being transferred to seemed to have the authority to push the one button I needed pushed to resolve my problem, I would have been a monster! I would have been pacing, huffing, cursing and yelling at (all of the many) people I was being bounced around to.
But patience comes from confidence. By reminding myself that, one week from now, this experience will mean nothing to me, gave me the confidence that it would be taken care of. And, once taken care of, it would not impact my life at all. The problem will be fixed, and I will have moved on with my days.
The next time you are in a situation that is getting on your last nerve, use one (or all) of these tools to get you through it and get on with your day.
Feeling stuck in these types of situations is just that, a feeling. If you hold onto feelings by taking a narrow focus and losing control, you will be hard pressed to find resolve. However, if you choose to see the bigger picture when it comes to those extreme feelings, you will quickly put yourself back in control and end up with more results that look exactly like the ones you wanted.