Keep your cool
Some like it hot. I do not. (Rhyming is fun.) Warmth is good. Extreme heat, not so much. The kind of heat that much of the U.S. is experiencing now is debilitating. You can’t do much when it’s this hot. Like an elderly man in an Associated Press article today said, “I’m staying in my house. I’m going to watch TV and have a cold beer. You got a better idea than that, I’d love to hear it.”
I will now proceed to throw my colleague, Blair Maury, under the bus. Yesterday, after being in and out of the 95 degree weather all day Blair was at his desk trying to access the network and the internet. Unfortunately for him, it’s hard to connect when you haven’t plugged the network cable in. Blair blamed it on the heat. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include confusion, disorientation, agitation, strange behavior and hallucinations. He really thought he had plugged it in.
Being hot can definitely downgrade your effectiveness literally and figuratively. Heated situations can arise in the workplace and it is just as important to keep your cool at these times. Not every day on the job is going to be sweet bliss and perfect harmony. Sometimes the source of our consternation can be co-worker or believe it or not, a customer. In both cases it is of extreme importance to turn the emotional AC down. (Turn up the AC can also be used. Although, this is counter intuitive, I still say it.) When we are upset it usually does not result in our best reactions. Being “hot under the collar” can also bring about confusion, disorientation, agitation, strange behavior and hallucinations. These traits are not ones to aspire to.
1. Confusion: If we are angry with someone it is very easy to misunderstand. That is why we call arguments misunderstandings — the nice way of putting it. Usually we are too concerned with our point of view instead of hearing where the other person is coming from.
Solution: Put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. In order to put an end to the misunderstanding or confusion there has to be an effort to understand. This cannot be done if we are shouting over them or ignoring them. If we can truly have empathy for the offending or offended party it will cut down on the confusion considerably.
2. Disorientation: I know from camping that orientation means finding your way. Letting our emotions run wild leads to losing our way. We’ve all heard about the feuding couple that forget what they’re even fighting about. Anger can be a major distraction and end up in lost productivity.
Solution: Go back to the starting point. We can all hear our mom telling us to go back to the last place we had our favorite G.I. Joe or Barbie doll when it had gone missing. (I had a Ken doll thanks to my sister, Meredith.) Whatever the issue might be we have to realize that it is not the end. Better days are coming.
3. Agitation: This is not just something your washing machine does. It’s restlessness or anxiety. This is usually the aftermath of the heated discussion or misunderstanding. If we are worried or have no peace of mind we will be fixated on that instead of what is important.
Solution: Make peace. End the war. Don’t wait for the other person. The power is our hands to make amends and build a better future. (I should run for president.) We need to put the past behind us because it already is. We have no power to change what has happened. We can extend the olive leaf and do our best to live a peacefully.
4. Strange Behavior: People act weird when they are mad. We do stuff we normally would not … silent treatment, throwing things, making up stuff that’s not true, pouting … how old are we? I just described my 2-year-old son’s temper tantrum. But that is where we easily end up if our emotions go unchecked.
Solution: Grow up. That person may have done something terrible, but we are adults. Responsibility for our actions and reactions is a must. This means biting the bullet and letting our pride suffer. It’s good for us. Being a grown up and humility should go hand in had. We should know by now that we do not have all the answers and mistakes will be made.
5. Hallucinations: This could be a subcategory of the last point. Seeing red is a term that is used for being angry. It also suggests that we are not seeing clearly. When our vision is clouded by emotional turmoil is hard to see the task at hand. We may even see things that are not really there. “That person is out to get me…” or “Nobody respects me.” The list can go on and on.
Solution: Get perspective. Changing your view can help you see better. Climbing to the top of the mountain allows you to see the valley for what it is – a dip between two highs. The difficulty we may be facing now will not always endure. Let it be a catalyst to start your journey to the next mountain top.
Inevitably we will encounter a situation that will test our emotional strength. It may be today, tomorrow or the next day, but it will happen. It’s okay to get upset, but don’t let it ruin your day. We have a choice on how we respond to a snub from a co-worker or a misunderstanding with a client. Choose to stay cool. And drink plenty of water.