People Skills: Everything is not an emergency!

A quote from Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind (1990)
“Stress is an ignorant state.
It believes that everything is an emergency.”

Let’s think about that for a minute. To define stress as an ignorant state is pretty controversial. We’ve been told for years now that stress is building in our society, that stress will hurt our health and basically harm us enough that death will occur if we don’t do something about it. Now Ms. Goldberg has the audacity to proclaim stress as an ignorant state?
I say Bravo and it’s about time!

For quite some time now I’ve maintained that many of the ills of our society are because we don’t know that we don’t know something. This is particularly true of etiquette, social norms, business practices and interpersonal skills. I believe that people would not go out of their way to be rude, crude or offensive if they only knew how they were coming across. We are ignorant and think that everything is an emergency, hence making others uncomfortable and causing stress.

This is good news because we can overcome ignorance. As far as the stress element, we need to do what Steven Covey maintains in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.  We must prioritize things into what is important but non urgent, (an emergency) urgent and important, not important and a waste of time. If we do these simple things our stress level will decrease, we will begin to enjoy our life more fully and we can start to concentrate on those other things we’re not ignorant about and which bring us joy and happiness.

To reduce your stress level think about implementing the following:

1.    Take time to plan.
The best way to de-stress and work more productively with people is to pre-plan. This way you understand where your time is going and you have decided the direction you want to take. Dan Kennedy writes in, “No B.S. Time Management” that if we can plan our year, month, week and day we will always have a handle on what is happening or should happen at any given time. Most things are not emergencies, they are simply other people’s priorities and they’ve convinced you to act on their schedule not yours. The more planning you’ve put in the less stress you will experience. You will be able to deal with people in a more professional and productive way.  I know top executives that spend a full hour per day planning and writing down the things that they want to accomplish. For every minute you plan you can save 10 minutes in wasted time. What a way to keep stress at bay!

2.    Determine your life priorities.
If you’re consumed with work you may be feeling pressure that’s self-imposed. What are you working for? This is a great question to ask yourself when planning your time. Getting the report out because you have to do it and not making the sales calls that will bring in income is a sure sign of out of whack priorities. We do what we know we have to, or what is easiest and don’t do what will make life less stressful. If you’ve ever had a project you keep putting off then you know exactly what I’m talking about. The same with not talking to someone because you don’t want to confront the issue that person is having. The stress builds the longer you don’t do whatever it is that’s hanging over your head. Brian Tracy suggests that you eat a live frog first thing in the morning.
Don’t be grossed out.  His thinking is that if you do the worst or most difficult thing first thing in your day it’ll be down hill riding from then on. Write a list of priorities to plan your day.  Do the tough stuff first and your stress level will lower each and every day.

3.    Decide what you consider an emergency.
The longer a person works the more they realize these important facts:  missed deadlines don’t kill you, quality work is more important than quantity of work, and everyone who seems to need you really doesn’t. Be careful not to give your time away for non-important issues. People are the most important asset and you will want to spend time developing relationships and building loyalty and skills, not putting out fires. I have found that things that I thought were emergencies really were just excuses I used to make myself feel important for taking care of a challenge. Mostly life is filled with a series of choices, and how we deal with them is really the determining factor in how much stress we have. Most things are not emergencies, most things are unimportant, most things can be handled in a calm and effective manner.

To lower your stress, just remember that everything isn’t an emergency.  It’s simply something you must decide to act on or not act on. These three steps should help you start to turn your stress ignorance into life bliss. The only challenge is will you do them?

Want a daily reminder to help you focus 5 days a week?
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& The Schuh Crew

Shawna Schuh, CSP

Helping Sales Professionals, Executives, and Service Teams profit through advanced people skills.

2421 Hwy 47  | Gaston, Oregon 97119 | 503-662-3044 |


~ by Shawna Schuh on June 18, 2009.

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