August 17, 2017

Before You Blow Your Stack—Drink Water

This past week I made the—apparently unwelcome—decision to ask someone a question about a process I found confusing.

My intention was not to stir up trouble but to gain clarity about a situation that was meaningful to me. In the hope of making that super clear I made a point of signing my query with “Respectfully” instead of “Sincerely.”

I’m sad to report that the response I received was disheartening: a mix of condescension and shaming.

Now as those of you who know me in real time, or who have been reading my posts for a while, I’m rarely at a loss for words— which is sometimes an advantage and sometimes not.

Thankfully, I reminded myself of the advice I gave in a meeting yesterday when someone asked what to do if things got heated,

“Drink water.”

If that seems simplistic, take a moment to think about it. Better yet, give it a try the next time you’re about to blow your stack.

Why? Because in my experience it’s impossible to hold onto feelings of indignation/frustration while simultaneously drinking a large glass of water.

Instead, you cool off. You swallow and digest your reactions and, with luck, you come up with a considered response.

(Similarly, if you are headed into a meeting that you suspect might become contentious, I recommend having a pitcher of water and some glasses on hand. When things heat up, pass it around.)

Here, I’m drinking multiple glasses of water. By the time I respond I will hopefully be cooler and calmer– not to mention shockingly well hydrated.

At the very least, I can drink to that.

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