Alice Letts

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What do you do when it all becomes too much?

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(source:  image via the Telegraph.co.uk accessed at 08.16 on 09.02.2012)

When the stakes are high?

There are some times in our lives, when we will attend a meeting from which it seems our whole life depends.  It may not be a matter of life and death.  Although it feels like it.  The decision made in the meeting can affect our lives in one of so many ways.  Perhaps it could be a meeting in which we are bidding for new work?  Or a meeting to discuss job performance and potential job promotion?  In both cases there is a potential of increased wealth.  There are many more reasons for meetings, too many to try to write about here.  But in each of these meetings, where we feel the stakes are high, it is only natural to become nervous.  The adrenalin will go wild.   Our hands may go clumpy.  We might even stammer or go momentarily speechless.

For these situations, it can help tremendously to take a deep breath.  If possible, get some fresh air.  Alternatively wash your face in the sink with cold water.  Then recall the slogan of that old war time poster (click <here>) that states “Keep Calm and Carry On”.  But what is the meaning of “calm”?  The Oxford dictionary defines the word calm as “not showing or feeling nervousness, anger, or other strong emotions” (source, Oxford Dictionaries.com accessed at 8.26 on 09.02.2012).

People take different approaches to their efforts to keep calm.  Some use the power of prayer.  Some use Tai chi and other forms of meditation.  Some use the Alexander technique.  Some use music, particularly Baroque music.  Music is becoming increasingly acknowledged as a method to relieve stress.  Studies on memory retention and concentration have been conducted with Baroque music.   The secret is the timing of the Baroque music, being 55-60 beats per minute (source:  No.1 Brain Fitness at Talidari.net, accessed at 08.33am on 09.02.2012).  This is particularly useful for students to think about listening to Baroque music as they study and just before an exam.

The Six Thinking Hats

When you are preparing for a meeting, there are some things you can do to help clear your mind and keep you focussed.  One useful tool is to consider the Six Thinking Hats (Source:  Edward de Bono at de bono group.com at 08.45 on 09.02.2012).  The hats are in six different colours as follows:

  1. White
  2. Yellow
  3. Black
  4. Red
  5. Green
  6. Blue
The white hat focuses on the facts alone.
The yellow hat look for values and benefits and uses positive thinking and an optimistic outlook.
The black hat is critical, negative and judgmental, and identifies all the weaknesses, risks and problem areas.
The red hat opens us up to share our emotions, intuition and feelings whether it be our fears or our loves.
The green hat leans itself to lateral thinking in that it is creative, looking for alternatives and opportunities.
The blue hat is control and management.

If you consciously choose a hat to focus your mind when you are preparing for or speaking at a meeting, then this will help concentration.  It gives you something too to distract yourself away from your own feelings of anxiety towards the meeting.

For more information on Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats, take a look at the de Bono Group website below:

  • The de Bono Group (click <here>)

For more information on the de Bono Group and courses, see the following website:

  • The de  Bono Group (click <here>)

To learn more about Edward de Bono, read his biography on the following website:

  • Edward de Bono (click <here>)


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