A few weeks ago, a colleague curve-balled me with a wonderful conversation exit remark; "peace out". Initially, I received the phrase as a push back until I checked for the meaning on internet slang.com. It meant "goodbye". Not long after that I was in another conversation which ended with the word "chillax". "Chillax",informally, means to "calm down and relax". Both words made me wonder if another world exists where young people go to be resourced with a vocabulary for casual conversation. A cursory review of the website internetslang.com revealed a language repository I knew very little about. This post is not about the colloquial language young people use though but the notions of "chillax". Let me expand on the issue.
The last while I've had to intervene in a number of disputes between senior staff members at schools in our district. Now this is nothing new other than my observation that many school management members are pent with frustration an anger towards each other. And when you deconstruct the issues that led to the conflict between them, you find the response behaviour to the issue and its foundation are completely out of synch. In fact, the response is almost unexplainable until you dig deeper. You then discover the anger is anchored in historical dislike that comes from workplace misunderstanding an allowed to filter into social spaces and vice versa, without any attempt to mediate the issue. The school grounds then become the platform for battle lines to be drawn, strategy devised to draw in other colleagues and learners and then launch a campaign to wreck havoc irrespective of the collateral damage. If only school management members could learn to spend more time "chillaxing" before they embrace conflict, we could arrest and resolve many of the issues afflicting our schools. So, the question we need to ask is simply, how do I chillax as a manager?
An article, sourced from a 2011 article on Forbes.com, provide useful tips to deal with frustration, stress or conflict in the workplace. It is noteworthy to remember we will never eradicate these dynamics completely but they can be managed to reduce the organizational risks if managers respond appropriately.
Here are six steps that may prove useful:
Though your first instinct might be to open your mouth and snap back (or just scream)—close it and breathe instead. This allows you time to think before saying something that may inflame the situation or be regretted later.
2. Write It Out (But Don’t Send It Out!)
Don't provide written responses when angry. Once the send button is activated, recalls rarely help.
3. Vent to a Trusted Colleague
Most of us have at least one close ally at work, someone we can confide in about everything job-related. It can be cathartic to discuss your aggravation with a person who understands your school's unique environment and staff dynamics.
4. Get a Little Love
Sometimes, what you really need is a (virtual) hug. Good friends or significant others can be the perfect source for support in difficult situations. If you can sneak in a quick text or call and hear a familiar, friendly voice for a few minutes, it may be just enough to talk you off the ledge. Even if your loved ones can’t offer the same inside perspective as a work comrade can, the personal boost can go a long way in cheering you up or reminding you that there is more to life than the current predicament.
5. Find Your Happy Place
Taking that short break to distract yourself or focus on something that makes you happy can ease your stress and help you to return to work in a better mood.
6. Take a Break
If things are really intense, one of the best solutions can be to remove yourself (at least temporarily) from the situation. Take your lunch, go grab coffee, or just walk outside a bit—leaving your phone and email behind. Getting out from the confines of those four walls can provide you the physical and mental distance you need to blow off some steam and relax.
You may look at these pointers, shrug your shoulders and convince yourself that they don't work. But let me assure you, as a district director, I've tapped into them daily to manage the demands attached to my job. I have oversight of over 250 schools, 5000 teachers and non teaching staff and 155k learners. Not to mention the partner organizations and stakeholders that interact in our environment and the parents! You need to be able to chillax. So, here is to more chillaxing! PEACE OUT!