Earlier today I read an article about how UN ambassador Nikki Haley stayed above the fray by keeping her cool. Admirable…for any of us. Yet it’s often easier said than done when we’re in a tense or stressful situation. Given the choice, I believe most of us want to feel relaxed vs. stressed so here are some ways to retain your communication composure.

1. Are you taking the situation personally?
Although tempting, make an effort not to personalize what you’re experiencing and that will give you a better chance at remaining calm.

2. Do you allow yourself enough time to respond?
Sometimes we pressure ourselves to respond immediately whether over the phone, in-person or electronically. Other than in an emergency, we may want to allow some space before responding. This gives us a chance to think more vs. responding in the moment.

3. Do you consider the other person’s perspective?
Whether or not you agree with that perspective, it affords you another angle that you may have overlooked.

4. Do you have all the facts?
Asking questions is an effective way of learning more which may impact how you feel. It also stops us from jumping to conclusions.

5. Do you monitor your own vocal volume?
Yelling typically serves to escalate the situation. So do your best to keep a conversational volume.

6. Are you aware of your non-verbal language?
How we stand or sit (posture) and our facial expressions communicate a great deal. Pay close attention to what your body is saying so you’re not sending the wrong message.

7. Is your verbiage helping or harming?
Choice of words makes a huge difference. Think carefully about what you say before it leaves your mouth. Our words have more of a significant impact than we may realize.

8. Are you remembering to breathe?
Sounds silly but we tend to either hold our breath or breathe more shallowly when stressed. Focus on deeper (diaphragmatic) breathing to help you at any time but especially when the stakes are high.

Retaining your communication composure is the perfect way to keep your cool and shift from being stressed to being relaxed.