It has been a while since our last discussion! The initial plan was to go straight into non-verbal communication, but today I thought we would touch upon communication while stressed. Later on, we will delve into non-verbal communication and then engaging while angry.

I have been moving, and moving is a stress-filled ordeal, at least it was for me. Even though I have studied interpersonal communication, my skills suffered during stressful situations. Since we are all human and less than perfect, let’s learn from my communication breakdowns! I found myself interrupting more, listening more to respond than hear, and not staying present and engaged. Let’s look at some ways to better manage interaction during stress:

Check-in with yourself: ask yourself what is triggering your stress? Check-in with your body. Are your muscles tense? Is your breathing and heart rate elevated?

Get calm: this is the time to practice some deep breathing, stepping outside, or meditation before engaging. If you can, practice calming activities such as: drinking tea, petting an animal, or going for a brief walk.

Pause to think: nearly everyone will grant you a second to gather your thoughts during a stressful moment. Angry exchanges may be different and we will look at that later on. Also, allow others the same thinking space. Impatient, snappy, or disrespectful exchanges are often the result of speaking before thinking!

Be concise: after calming down, thinking as rationally as possible, and being respectful, limit your talking points. Stick to one issue at a time. This is the perfect time to use “I” statements.

Don’t be upset with yourself if you find that your communication de-evolves when you are stressed or even tired. It happens. But, within every exchange, skillful or not, there is something to be learned. Remember that it is a journey!

Lori Brandt