Tell Me More: Diffusing Stress with Communication
September 9, 2019
By: Crystal Farley, Workplace Stress-Relief and Communications Strategist at C Far: Beyond the Box
Picture this. Your partner tells you to leave your job and to go “all in” on your business. You are so pumped; you feel just an incredible sense of gratitude and joy in your relationship and in your spouse because he or she believes in your vision and wants to see you happy. There is apart of you that is nervous, anxious, and maybe a touch insecure leaving a steady income but you know you got this, especially with the support! Imagine that you are all heart-eye emoji over your partner and eager to continue this empire that you are building.
Then, your partner starts asking questions about your plans, what you are working on, and how your activities are helping you make money. These questions feel like expectations. The expectations feel like heavy weights on your shoulders. Your shoulders feel like they are crumbling. Your vision, your happiness, and your light that you once held feel now more like a daunting task. All of this started because your partner started asking you questions out of genuine interest (and admittedly maybe a little frustration), in
stead of asking you to, “tell me more,” as Brené Brown would say.
Honestly, for a conversation like that with your partner to accelerate at a speed of that velocity, there is an underlying issue of insecurity and self-judgement that is being fueled. Most anyone starting a business has a level of stress that is at times unmanageable and it is easy to fall into defense-mode traps; being defensive is a natural tendency. However, there is a slight adjustment in communication that can be made to perhaps accept your partner’s delivery, alter your perception, and adapt to a new journey in your relationship to avoid future conflict and stress.
The 4 A’s are completely mindful ways to reduce stress in situations: Alter, Avoid, Adapt and Accept. Alter means to change your circumstance, avoid is just that… avoid a stressful situation, accept is to understand that your circumstance will not change so your mindset needs to, and lastly, we have adapting for reduction.
A really great way to resolve conflict and reduce stress in your relationships at home and work is by using a combination of the A’s in your communication.
What do I mean exactly? Think about the above example again which truly is a miscommunication causing
additional stress in the relationship.
1. Identify the stress.
In the example above, there have been some major changes for you and your partner. You have left a job with a steady income creating needed lifestyle changes and perhaps a sense of inadequacy on both sides due to ego. Additionally, you may be feeling that you are not providing enough value and time away from home building the business may be causing disconnection. Ultimately in this conflict, there is stress for both you and your partner and it is important to recognize that it isn’t solely about you.
2. Figure out how you can diffuse the stress.
There are a few things you can do. Avoid the conversation completely or if that is off the table, identify how you are feeling when your partner is working to have interest in your endeavors. If you haven’t had as many wins and are feeling a knock to your ego, then perhaps avoid having the conversation and explain why.
Accept that this is how your partner is going to show interest and accept ownership for your role in the
conversation. One of the greatest things you can do in fairness first to you and then your partner, is to acknowledge and accept that you both play a role in your relationship and the conversation. This will allow you to shift your mindset and think differently when faced with another communication challenge.
3. Communication is key.
When thinking about the conversations you have, in this case about your business, adapting and altering are great ways to maintain good communication without reacting emotionally or shutting down. You can alter the outcome of a conversation by creating and setting boundaries. When you and your spouse discuss your business and the work you are doing, perhaps there need to be guidelines and topics to stay away from. You
both can also adapt to the conversation and maybe instead of asking you a dozen questions, your partner can simply state, “Tell me more.” Why is this more effective?
4. Know when less is more.
“Tell me more,” is a simple statement that shows genuine interest, no prepared responses, and is disarming because it doesn’t feel like the Grand Inquisition. This is a statement that implies that someone is interested in the conversation and is open to listening to the response. Often times we are preparing a response as we are communicating with another person. “Tell me more,” leaves the person on the receiving end the opportunity to drive the conversation at a comfortable and meaningful pace.
So, let’s look at the example conversation again with a different lens and assume the couple has set boundaries and the spouse is adapting his or her reaction to a statement rather than question. Entrepreneur comes home and is eager to share the day’s wins. He simply kisses his wife and shares an interaction. She looks at him and says, “tell me more.” He smiles and continues to share his wins from the day feeling validated, supported, and most of all loved in this roller-coaster of an adventure they are on. It sounds really simple, but overall reminding yourself that there are 4 A’s, avoid, alter, accept, and adapt, will allow you to be more proactive versus reactive when dealing with stress. Changing your environment, avoiding people or situations, accepting that it may not change, and adapting to reoccurring stress can help you manage your life in a much more productive and enriched way. Communication tends to be the common denominator in stress driven conflict. Take a moment to breathe and pick the A that best fits your situation.
About the Author:
I have been given gifts of life experiences that offer me the ability to connect with a vast audience. I am a mother to a beautiful daughter that exposes me to brilliant communities. I am a daughter to a mother in recovery. I am the sister of members of the LBGTQ+ community. I am a combat veteran and woman from technology. I have been formally diagnosed with PTSD. I am a divorcee, wife, fitness fanatic, and radical empath who hopes to change the world one person at a time. I am a Chief Story Teller / co-creator of PTSD: People, Trauma, and Stress Discussed: an unfiltered truth, a successful podcast (2018), as well as Making of HERstory. As a combat vet and woman from technology, working in a leadership capacity for Apple, HPE, IBM, I have now launched my own company which serves organizations by providing communication and stress-relief solutions through Stress Ed programs to help people be better prepared at work and home. I don’t believe people or organizations should be defined by their life stressors, past and present, and hopes to offer advocacy, empowerment, and confidence to those that need it in order to reach maximum potential. I am the voice of necessary change, a cheerleader for the underdog, and speaker about all things that are the elephant in the room. To work with Crystal within your group or organization, reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.