"Believe in yourself, trust your gut and surround yourself with resilient people who inspire you to be better."
Maybe you have a colleague or a family member who remains calm no matter what. Even in the face of persistent and overwhelming stress, they somehow manage to keep their stress under control. What gives? According to the "Leading Through Burnout" study, it comes down to one thing: emotional intelligence (EI).
Kandi Wiens, Ed.D., an executive coach, national speaker and organizational change consultant, and Annie McKee, the director of the PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program, say that EI supports superior coping abilities and helps people deal with chronic stress and prevent burnout.
In this issue, we share advice from Dr. Wiens and McKee on how to better manage stress and avoid burnout.
Don't be the source of your stress. Too many of us create our own stress, with its full bodily response, merely by thinking about or anticipating future episodes or encounters that might be stressful, say Dr. Wiens and McKee. People who have a high need to achieve or perfectionist tendencies may be more prone to creating their own stress. Dr. Wiens and McKee found in their research that leaders who are attuned to the pressures they put on themselves are better able to control their stress level.
Recognize your limitations. Becoming more aware of your strengths and weaknesses will clue you in to where you need help. In their study, Dr. Wiens and McKee discovered that those who recognized when demands were outweighing their abilities didn't go it alone—they surrounded themselves with trusted advisors and asked for help.
Take deep breaths. When you feel your tension and anxiety rapidly rising, take a moment to breathe. Mindfulness practices help us deal with immediate stressors and long-term difficulties. Practicing mindfulness allows you to be more open to other solutions so you don't have to waste time in defense mode. Heightening your awareness of your breathing may be difficult at first, note Dr. Wiens and McKee, but remember that attention is the ultimate act of self-control.
Re-evaluate your perspective of the situation. While you can't change what's happening in the world right now, it helps to change your perspective. When you shift your mindset, you might see that what once felt like stress is a problem you want to solve.
Try putting yourself in the other person's shoes. Dr. Wiens and McKee say that the stress from conflicts often leads to burnout so it's best to deescalate conflicts when you can. Be inquisitive, ask questions and listen deeply. Keep your attention to the other person and focus on what he is trying to tell you. By seeking to understand his perspective, you'll be in a much better position to gain his trust and influence him.
By working to improve your emotional intelligence, you can make significant strides in preventing burnout. Remember that improving EI takes time, so be patient with yourself.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Kandi Wiens, Ed.D. is an executive coach, national speaker and organizational change consultant. Annie McKee is the director of the PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program. She is also the author of How to Be Happy at Work and a coauthor of Primal Leadership, Resonant Leadership and Becoming a Resonant Leader.