Archive for June, 2016

4 Tips On How To Handle Stress

Monday, June 13th, 2016

As the spokesperson for the FBI in Northern California, I learned more about how to handle stress in those four years than at any other time in my life. The constant demand from the media for information that was timely, on-message, and accurate was relentless.

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Interestingly enough, it was also the period in my life when I felt the most energized and invigorated. After twenty years as an investigator, I needed the boost of adrenaline that a fast-paced environment gave me.

As entrepreneurs, sales executives, and leaders, you are stressed by deadlines, responsibilities, and your ever-increasing workload. You may be wondering how to handle stress and worried that it is interfering with your job performance and even your health.

The conventional wisdom about stress warns that too much of it can cause high blood pressure. It can also cause heart attacks and other health hazards. Non-stop stress can be harmful. However, recent research is providing new insight into how measured doses of stress can actually enhance our performance.

Our brains are hard-wired so that it is difficult for us to take action until we feel stress or anxiety. Mentally strong people are able to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behavior in optimal levels to achieve top performance.

Here are 4 tips to help you handle stress and keep stress levels in check:

1. DEVELOP THE RIGHT MINDSET

In the past, psychologists believed that it was the amount of stress that was bad for a person’s health. Recent studies show that the amount of stress is a surprisingly poor predictor of whether it will leave you better, or worse, off.

New research from Yale University and Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, reveal that people can be divided into two groups:

  1. those who believe that stress-is-debilitating, and
  2. those who believe that stress-is-enhancing.

The Yale Study found that people who had stress-is-enhancing mindsets reported having better health. They also experience greater life satisfaction and superior work performance.

Stress produces cortisol—too much or too little cortisol release in response to a stressor can have negative physiological consequences.

The Yale research, in combination with Achor’s findings, paint a very clear picture:

Stress is killing you if you believe it is. Studies confirm that people who die from stress do not die from stress itself. They die from the belief that stress was bad for them. Those who do not believe it is harmful experience no negative side effects on their health.

Use mental toughness to manage your mindset and handle stress. You will see challenges you face as opportunities to grow and learn. In addition, you will be both happier and more productive.

2. USE SELF-TALK TO HANDLE STRESS

We all know that anxiety can hurt performance. Most of us have been in situations when we were anxious, couldn’t think straight, and experienced temporary lapses in memory.

Too much cortisol and our performance withers. But people who are calm can experience too little cortisol, and their performance withers, too.

The key is learning how to manage your emotions with self-talk and use the right words when controlling your thoughts.

The Journal of Experimental Psychology reported that people who told themselves that they were excited about the challenge ahead of them performed well. They did significantly better than those who told themselves that they were calm.

If you are excited about your job or task, you will be more persuasive, competent, confident, and persistent. You will grit-up with the mental toughness to change the way you label your feelings and emotions. Move them from stressful to exciting. This helps create a shift toward a more positive mindset.

3. BE GRATEFUL

Taking the time to be grateful lessens anxiety because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Professor Robert Emmons conducted a study at the University of California, Davis, of over 1,000 people, from ages 8 to 80. They found that those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced a host of benefits:

  • Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More joy, optimism, and happiness
  • Acting with more generosity and compassion
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated

4. REIGNITE THE INNER FIRE

The higher levels of stress that I experienced as the FBI spokesperson brought me closer to understanding what fired up my heart. Because of the constant deadlines, I found myself doing two things:

1) Focusing on what I liked to do, and 2) delaying until later or delegating to others the things I didn’t like to do.

One of the things I loved to do was gather stories from other agents and then work with reporters on getting those stories out to the public. I delayed as long as possible doing the record checks and going through files for details of an investigation.

I created stories around FBI best practices and shared them with others. The audience benefited from the life lessons that twirled all around me.

The stress imposed upon me by my job forced me to prioritize, and in those priorities I found where my heart was leading. I wanted to write and share the lessons I learned from my time as an FBI agent with others.

For stress to be beneficial, it’s important to find meaning in your work . Research has shown that workers in high-stress jobs like air-traffic controllers and intensive-care nurses thrive under heavy stress if they are positive about the future and find their work meaningful.

You cannot be stressed out and empowered at the same time! Be mentally strong and keep your anxiety from taking over.

When has stress enabled you to perform at your best?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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7 Killer Ways To Make Stronger First Impressions

Monday, June 6th, 2016

My success often depended upon first impressions—coming across as someone who made others feel respected, valued, and comfortable. Fortunately, most people judged me as a competent FBI agent within the first few seconds of meeting me. 

Successful woman copy

I knew from experience that first impressions are fast, firm, and very sticky. I had one shot of making a good one, and if I didn’t, I risked losing the opportunity to build the trust that I so badly needed in order to do business with a new contact.

In a recent study by Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov, people looked at a microsecond of video of a political candidate. They could predict with 70% accuracy who would win the election just from that microsecond of tape. This tells us that people can make incredibly accurate snap judgments in a tenth of a second.

Just as you evaluate potential business partners, employees and personal acquaintances on your first impressions of them, others will judge you and your business by the way you come across to them.

Strong first impressions help you be persuasive because it is a very effective way of getting people’s attention.

Here are 7 killer ways you can make strong first impressions:

1. DRESS TO IMPRESS

Success - men

Appearance is our first filter. This isn’t news to anyone so put a little effort into it—dress like it matters. A professional appearance will enhance your personal brand and the more polished you appear, the more likely you will leave a positive impression.

This doesn’t necessarily mean conservative or expensive, but it does mean you need to put thought into your appearance. For men, a watch can say a lot about them. For women, jewelry and makeup goes a long way in sending the right message, or the wrong one!

TIP:

  • Always dress for your client’s comfort, not yours.

2. APPEAR INTERESTED

According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, one of the best ways to win people’s confidence is to simply to let them talk first.

It is a mistake to approach every business meeting as a negotiation or evaluation. Instead, start collecting information about the other person. Listen as they share things about themselves and the best way to do this is to engage in small talk.

TIP:

  • Be a good listener
  • Ask pertinent questions during your conversation
  • Make eye contact to show you’re fully engaged
  • Always allow others time to fully express themselves, don’t interrupt or finish their sentence

3. POLITENESS MATTERS

To judge by movies, television, and books, one would be left with the impression that successful FBI agents are rude, pushy, and arrogant. While kicking ass has its place in making arrests, generally the most effective FBI agent is the one who recruits people with knowledge of a suspect to work with them in gathering information. While informants come in many shapes, sizes, and smells, the agent must be someone the informant wants to work with.

Polite people are memorable because they stand out for positive reasons. They make us feel comfortable, respected, and valued. We want to be around them.

And we want to do business with them.

TIP:

  • Step forward to meet someone, smile, tilt your head slightly downward (a sign of respect in every culture)
  • Act as though you are the one honored by the introduction, not them.
  • Never gossip

4. OFFER A FIRM HANDSHAKE

Your handshake should be warm, friendly and sincere. If it is too firm or too weak, you may convey a negative impression. If you’re seated when you’re introduced to someone, stand before you shake hands—it shows respect for the person you are meeting.

TIP:

  • Keep it short and sweet,
  • Remember to smile
  • Make eye contact when you shake hands

5. ASK FOR ADVICE

Communication - 2 people

In a series of studies, researchers found that when people are asked for advice, they are flattered and it increases their self-confidence.

According to these same studies, when others ask for our advice, we tend to think they were smart to come to us for help! Being asked for advice increases our opinion of the advice seeker’s competence.

TIP:

  • Asking for advice can be an effective business strategy. For example, when facing conflict in negotiations, asking your counterpart for advice can increase the perception that you are likable and competent, thereby leading to a more rapid resolution of the conflict.

6. ARRIVE EARLY

Arrive a few minutes early. It’s always important to be punctual because when you arrive on time you send the clear message that you’re responsible, capable and respectful of others’ time.

Use the few extra minutes to go to the restroom so you can check your appearance and gain your composure before you walk into an important meeting.

TIP:

  • Always schedule extra time on your calendar to accommodate traffic delays, weather, and parking.

7. PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME

 

Proper preparation reduces anxiety and will help give first impressions that portray you as competent. If you do your homework before an important business meeting, you will have a tremendous advantage over your competition.

If you are attending a networking event, familiarizing yourself with the names and industries of those attending will help you better understand the needs of your potential new clients.

When you take the time to prepare, you’ll appear interesting and knowledgeable—two qualities that help make good first impressions.

TIP:

  • Learn as much as you can about those you will be meeting
  • Brush up on current events that pertain to their industries

How did someone make a strong first impression with you? Why?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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