Bring your best self to tough situations

When things get tough in the office, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the drama. Instead of staying calm and focused, you might find yourself yelling or stressed out. This isn’t good for you or your team. In order to be your best self during difficult times, you need to stay organised and stressfree. Here are a few tips:

  1. Stay focused on your goals

When things are chaotic, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. But if you stay focused on your goals, you’ll be less likely to get swept up in the drama. Write down your goals and refer to them often. This will help keep you grounded.

  1. Avoid taking things personally.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in office politics, but you need to remember that these things aren’t personal. If someone is treating you poorly, don’t take it personally. Remember that they’re probably just dealing with their own stress and aren’t really mad at you.

  1. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.

When things are getting crazy, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate what’s going on. Don’t try to do everything at once – that’s a recipe for disaster. Break down big tasks into smaller pieces and focus on one thing at a time.

  1. Keep your cool.

When things are tense, it’s important to stay calm and rational. Losing your temper or shutting down will make things worse. If you remain calm, people will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.

Stay positive in tough times

How would respond if you made a huge mistake at work? What if you suddenly lost your job? What would your next steps be? Are you resilient enough not to break from the stress?

Resilience is not just a word touted in workplace well-being programs – it’s a fundamental approach to life. It’s the ability to bounce back from adversity and to experience setbacks without letting them negatively impact your optimism for the future.

Resilient thinkers have a core set of beliefs and practices in common. How can you can adopt these beliefs and practices? Here are some tips to get you started.

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Empower your people from within

Many people feel powerless and frazzled in challenging situations. As an HR practitioner, you can play a huge role in changing this situation. If you have read my article Take charge of your life you know how to increase self-efficacy and help people operate from an internal locus of control by:

  • Believing they can have an impact
  • Monitoring and managing their internal dialogue
  • Turning off their automatic ‘Yes’ reactions
  • Finding new ways to do things
  • Now let’s look at some higher-level strategies you can use to foster emotion regulation in your business

Recruit for self-efficacy

Ideally, you should hire employees who already have a good sense of self-efficacy and strong internal locus of control. How do you do that? By asking probing questions, posing hypothetical situations and using robust psychometrics. Find out how candidates handle setbacks and challenges. Ask about their emotion management strategies, not just their job skills.

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Take charge of your life with 4 easy steps

Do you sometimes feel like you’re not in control of your own life? Do most situations leave you feeling lost or helpless? If that’s the case, you need is an internal locus of control.

Locus of control is where you believe the control in your life comes from. When you have an external locus of control, you see people or factors outside of yourself as ‘controlling’ your life. Conversely, having an internal locus of control means that you believe you have some control over the events in your life. You know you can’t influence everything, but you believe you can manage your own actions and thinking processes.


So how can you operate from an internal locus of control? Here are four tips I give students in my Positive Psychology training courses:

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Control emotions so they don’t control you

Have you ever said something in anger that you later wish you could take back? When you act on your emotions too quickly, you often make decisions that you later regret.

Your emotions are connected to key drives in your psych. They can seem to creep up without warning and completely take over. Emotion regulation allows you to recognise and manage your feelings so they don’t drive your behaviour.  

Emotional Intelligence expert Daniel Goleman has shown that emotion regulation is one of four key skills that contribute to professional success. Like any other skill, emotion regulation takes time and practice.

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Improve your relationships with ONE skill

When a relationship has soured, how do you turn it around? The answer is to give positive attention to the other person.  

Humans need positive attention in the same way we need air. Like oxygen, positive attention is essential to both our physical and mental well-being. The key to positivity in any relationship is active constructive communication. To be active constructive, you need to show genuine interest. For example, you might ask for more information or say, “Wow, that sounds like a surprise…” 

To respond in active constructive mode, react to others’ bids for attention in positive ways. You also need to bid for their attention – but in ways that build the relationship. There are four simple ways to do this.  

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Let’s look back as well as forward this New Year’s Eve

As December ends and January begins, how will you mark the transition to a new year? Many of us “celebrate the New Year.” We mark those celebrations with parties and toasts to the upcoming year. The more serious of develop plans, otherwise known as New Year’s resolutions. And all of us hope that the next 12 months are going to be special. Looking at these New Year rituals through the eyes of an anthropologist, something strikes me. These celebrations are all about looking forward and leaving the past 12 months behind.

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Find out what difficult people really want

Handling difficult people means interrupting their game-playing. Learn to recognise the games commonly used by people in fight, flight and spite mode. This sets you up to address the game successfully and alter the difficult behaviour as quickly as possible.

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How logic kills problem-solving ability

If you’ve studied problem-solving or decision-making, you’ve probably been told to take a logical approach. This means that what I’m about to propose might seem controversial. After teaching solution-focused thinking techniques for over 20 years, I’ve noticed there are three key ways logical thinking can hold people back when tackling tough issues. I call these the downsides of logic.

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How to say ‘you’re wrong’ without saying ‘you’re wrong’

Telling someone they’re wrong can be a politically risky move. Imagine, for example, explaining to your boss that he’s just made an unethical decision, or imagine telling your key client, as a small business owner, that the course of action they’re committed to is based on faulty assumptions. At an even simpler level, imagine needing to correct an erroneous fact your colleague has just presented to a senior management group during an important meeting.

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