Keeping your cool in a hot time

12 Apr 2004|Christoper Ireland

Things are hot around here lately. Sales are extremely high and all our clients are in a hurry. Just a few years ago, we would have started whining about now–but the recessionary lesson is still very fresh, so no one’s complaining. Instead, Denise suggested I send out an email helping everyone at Cheskin deal with the added pressure of growth. Here’s what I sent:

1. Over-hyped people under perform. If you can feel the blood pulsing thru your body, you need to take a break and calm down. When you’re in an over-hyped mode, you’ll cause as many problems as you solve, so just stop what you’re doing and relax for awhile. If this makes you feel irresponsible, pretend your mother sent you to your room for a “time-out.”

2. Gifts are good. “Thank you” is always nice, but cookies, flowers, note cards and other small gestures of appreciation are even better. If you find yourself repeatedly saying “thank you,” “oh, thank you so much,” “oh my god, you’re such a lifesaver” etc. to the same person, then it’s time for a gift.

3. Be real. We often pad our requests to make it easy on ourselves (I need that report by Tues, latest…), but when time’s at a premium, we have to be very realistic about due dates and commitments. Provide people as much time as possible to respond to your requests. Don’t set false deadlines for your own convenience. On the other hand, if you are the respondee, don’t miss deadlines unless you absolutely can’t avoid it and always give people notice that you’re going to miss the deadline–before you miss it.

4. Be precise. We all hate to limit our options too early, so it’s human nature to make broad requests like “what would this cost in 47 countries?” But in hot times, this can flip someone completely over the edge. Think thru your requests of others. Be as precise as possible and keep the requests to the minimum you need, not the maximum. You’re not the only one with needs….

5. Email can be evil. You’ve been there, you know how it feels. You come back from a hellacious trip where you didn’t have time to check Outlook and there are 437 emails waiting for you, many of which have nothing whatsoever to do with you. There are dozens of tricks and tools to manage email, but the best trick of all is to use email wisely. Don’t send a “my car is stalled and I’ll be late” email to Everyone. If you’re sending a message that’s only valid for a limited time, have it expire. If you get looped into one of the many “what do you think about….” email conversations and want out, just automatically detour it into the delete file.

6. Email can be energizing. If you have something nice to say, then definitely say it in email and copy as many people as is relevant. Everyone likes to hear that they did good–and it’s even more appreciated under stress.

7. Email can be evil (again). We’ve said this dozens of time, but it’s worth saying again. Do not send emails when you’re angry. Emails never die. They have the half-life of uranium and wander around in cyberspace forever. If you write a nasty email, you might as well paste it to your forehead for the next month. It’s likely even your mother will see it.

8. Anger management. Anger is only effective in small doses, delivered at appropriate times to the right audience for the right reason. I rarely ever lose my temper, but when I do, I try to express it quickly, clearly and then walk outside until i calm down. If you find yourself losing your temper repeatedly, get a good therapist (or if you prefer, get a good massage).

9. Alcohol is a cooling agent. It’s not for everyone, but a good drink (notice that’s not plural) shared with co-workers in a relaxing environment can soothe a lot of stress. If it’s the right drink, it can result in greater problem-solving abilities, telepathic communication skills and a general sense that everything is A-OK. Good tequila works for me. If you’re the one causing most of the stress, pick up the tab.

10. There’s always time for play. Play is a creative tool. It helps you think better, faster, more clearly and in more novel ways. In hot times, play is often the first thing people give up–but it should actually be increased. If you’re on the road, find some diversions. If you’re in the office, occassionally goof off. We have some infamous tricksters at Cheskin. Our couches have been known to travel to foriegn lands and send postcards. Puff balls have mysteriously appeared in offices and water has squirted from nowhere. Surely, there’s more mischef out there somewhere?

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