2016 / 5 August

16 Stress Busters I Learnt in 16 Years of Banking!

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Sixteen year fly like this! When I started working, the people with this kind of vintage looked old to me. Now they look quite young. That’s called relativity and you don’t need to be Einstein to discover this. However, these years taught me a thing or two about busting that omnipresent beast called stress and its cousins of same species – tension, pressure etc. Take a look at these and choose a few if you like.

1.       Laugh it out. Whether it is an internal meeting or a client meeting, it pays to keep the atmosphere light. Colleagues and clients appreciate this and the stress level within yourself as well in the environment comes down. However, stay away from politically incorrect or demeaning jokes.  It is easier for the more senior person in a meeting to do and then other can take a cue.

2.       Accept when you are wrong. Rather than defending a lost cause, mistake or even a sub-par performance, it makes sense to accept the situation and move on. Our system doesn’t encourage people to make mistakes and learn from them. As soon as you accept where you stand, you feel light.

3.       Let the other person speak. Very often I find myself in meetings where many people want to share their point of view first. Even if someone else is speaking, their whole focus is on finding that entry point when the speaker pauses and they rattle off. Let the other person finish her point please. Give due consideration to what they have to say and then make your point. If the time is limited, you may ask for extension, a follow up meeting or send an email after the meeting. Just bulldozing your way through increasing stress levels for all.

4.       Do not over-commit. While working with a team recently, I was advised that the project will be completed in four weeks but then it look much longer. The whole team including myself went through a lot of stress because of this. With experience, you lean to put realistic deadlines, anticipate hurdles and other issues. Keep buffers and deliver before the deadline. This makes everyone happy.

5.       Say no more frequently. Saying no, when it is the right thing saves you a lot of heartburn everyday. If you say yes just to be nice or under lot of pressure, you are only prolonging the inevitable.

6.       Try to have gaps between meetings. Having back to back meetings without any time to reflect and follow up on earlier meetings’ discussions is of no use. A good meeting is one that culminates in the desired outcome. This is often a result of good synthesis of the discussion and follow-up. Attending too many meetings without taking follow up actions piles up stress at an alarming rate.

7.       Focus on the task at hand and not on the person you are interacting with.

8.       Mixing personal and professional lives is fine. The traditional boundaries between personal and professional time and space are getting blurred at an alarming pace. Doing personal work in office time and official work in personal time is Ok, if warranted by situation. However, this should not be overdone, otherwise stress will rise instead of falling.

9.       Travel relaxed. Keep buffer time for any travel to account for traffic jams and air traffic congestion. When you don’t keep buffer and calculate travel time tightly, you will be under stress to arrive on time. Employers and clients expect you to build in extra travel time. In my experience, saving fifteen minutes of buffer time can give you stress for several hours. And in the whole career, that is few years of unwarranted stress.

10.   Prepare in advance. Searching for the pointer just before the presentation, deciding what to wear at the last moment (specially for ladies), looking at the slideshow only a few minutes before the start or preparing the pitchbook at the last moment cause unnecessary stress. Avoid it.

11.   Reject negativity or anger coming from outside. If someone else is having a bad day or they are negative by nature, it is not your fault. Don’t hold yourself responsible for the resultant situation. You may not do anything to aggravate the situation and just be a passive witness. Know well that you are calm from within and be like that. Try to remove yourself physically from that place if possible and give the person some time to become normal.

12.   Don’t react to baits. Many colleagues are good at making overt comments that look harmless but hit you where it hurts. See these comments and actions as a bait which can hook you and eventually kill your corporate career. Just let the bait pass. Don’t reply immediately. Give a holding response like, “let me look into it and get back to you”.  If there is a factual error in the statement, then you may correct that without getting emotional. Very often, the person pinching someone gets away easily, however, the person who shouts on getting pinched becomes the victim. Numerous managers have built their careers using this trick. Deny them the pleasure.

13.   Drink water from a tumbler. Yes, this seemingly stupid idea can reduce the stress in your life. If you sit and sip water at a moderate pace from a tumbler, it sooths you. I see people either not drinking enough water or just gulping it down from a bottle or sipper.

14.   Treating all colleagues and support staff with respect. My favorite example here is President Obama shaking hands with janitors, soldiers and other staff. The more we are conscious of our ‘senior’ rank and maintain a stiff demeanor, it accumulates stress inside.

15.   Do not overeat at work. We may not overeat anywhere but overeating at work gives rise to a different kind of stress – stress of keeping awake or trying to sleep with eyes open.

16.   Choose to be happy. Be conscious of your desire to be happy everywhere. A few simple techniques here can help you with this. http://www.ashutoshm.com/5-ways-to-be-happy-at-your-job-2/

 Please feel free to leave a comment and write to me at info@ashutoshm.com

Ashutosh Mishra - YouthCoach & Author

A seeker and explorer in the quest for lasting happiness, health and well-being. An MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur and a Mechanical Engineer from IIT Delhi. Has been a senior banker with large global banks like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and ANZ Bank. Working in these demanding global institutions with a gruelling schedule and plenty of business travel. Was fortunate to realise the importance of health and wellbeing early on. Learnt and practiced many wellbeing tools and techniques to focus on his own well-being while balancing the demands of a high-profile career and a lovely family.

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