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How to effectively deal with stress

Are you feeling stressed? When a person is highly stressed it can greatly affect his or her ability to communicate effectively. Stress can disrupt thinking capacity and the ability to read behaviour.

In contrast, when communicating in a calm state, signals and indicators are more easily picked up and there is less of a chance of making comments that you may later regret.

How stress affects communication

Communication can completely disintegrate if one or more parties are stressed. Constant and overwhelming pressure can hamper communication, making it both challenging and difficult. This can have a domino effect of misunderstandings, errors and frustrations.

Impact of stress on communication

The impact of stress on communication include:

  • Decreased concentration
  • Memory lapse
  • Nervousness
  • Distraction that affects listening skills
  • Messages being interpreted incorrectly
  • Inability to focus
  • Increased negativity
  • Anxiety
  • Solutions becoming less obvious

How to deal with your stress

Taking positive action to recognise and reduce your own stress can make communication for yourself and others much more productive. Be aware of your stress triggers. Maintaining a calm state will arm you with the best opportunity to communicate effectively.

Strategies that you can use

Ways to deal with your stress include:

  • Recognise when you are stressed
  • Slow down
  • Take a deep breath
  • Modify your environment
  • Understand the source of your stress
  • Look for humour in situations
  • Monitor your communication
  • Choose your words carefully
  • Delay communication if possible

How to deal with someone else's stress

Help to minimise communication damage that stress may cause by being aware of those around you. Being empathetic and supportive of a person's stressful situation can make interaction easier.

Acknowledging the best time for discussions can help to create a calm and respectful communication environment.

Strategies to assist with other people's stress

Ways to deal with someone else's stress include:

  • Be aware of their emotional state
  • Agree to disagree
  • Don't be drawn into their stress
  • See the situation through their eyes
  • Avoid controversial topics
  • Keep a cool head
  • Stay calm
  • Be willing to listen

Communication can be potentially challenging under the best of circumstances so the element of stress can strain efforts to communicate effectively. Being aware of these factors will reduce the feeling of overwhelm and make communication more engaging and functional.

Have you experienced the effects of stress on communication? Share your story.

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Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone is the author of Success Talks: Conversations with Everyday Leaders. Maria works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. She provides tailored programs in presentation skills, business writing and effective communication as a leader and team member. Maria’s programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.
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Looking for tips to help you with your speaking, writing and interpersonal communication?

Then download my free ebook, 30 Business Communication Tips.

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