Meetings, especially those related to performance and job interviews, are often stressful occasions. They involve reviewing one’s performance, negotiating for a job or pay raise, and when we don’t know what a meeting is about, we usually anticipate unpleasant news.
However, any kind of mental stress hinders us when we’re heading for a meeting. We feel stress when experiencing uncertainty and when we project unwanted situations. In fact, we end up engaging the flight or fight response when we’re dealing with everyday activities.
In this post, we’ll look at helpful mental strategies and attitudes that will make it possible to approach meetings with ease and composure.
When we’re in our best frame of mind, we’ll think clearly, answer questions well, and come out of negotiations feeling satisfied with our performance.
Here are ways to feel positive and enter meetings without stress.
Avoid assumptions and worst-case scenarios
The biggest mistake that people make is creating assumptions about why a meeting is happening or what people are thinking.
These assumptions can lead to negative thoughts that tailspin into panic and anxiety which then impact how we interact with others. For example, if you’re called into an unplanned meeting by your boss, immediately wondering about whether you’ve done something wrong will make you nervous even before the meeting has taken place. This can create poor interactions even when the subject matter is mild or neutral.
Start to train yourself to stop making assumptions about what a meeting is about, or how people will react. This can take some effort but after a few tries, you’ll become practiced at entering a gathering with an open mind and a cheerful countenance which will work in your favor.
Quiet your mind
Although it’s easier said than done, the best thing you can do to cope with a stressful meeting is to quiet your mind. In the last tip, we saw one way to do this – by avoiding assumptions and worst-case scenarios.
In general, start to pay attention to what is going on in your mind when you are in the meeting or about to get into it. The less you think about alternative scenarios or worry about what others are thinking, the more present you’ll be. And the more present you are, the better you’ll deal with the subject at hand.
If you’re catching up with customers or pitching to investors for a startup, then focus on what you know rather than worrying about how your audience will receive your presentation.
You can practice meditation for a few minutes in a quiet room to help calm your nerves. Try counting backward slowly and taking deep breaths too to slow down your heart rate and breathing.
You’ll feel more confident when you do your presentation and will impress your colleagues or investors as they’ll pick up on how you feel.
Distract yourself before the meeting
Sometimes, all you need is a break in your thought patterns especially when they become overwhelming. It’s a good idea to deliberately distract yourself in some manner.
Call up a loved one or a friend. Explore a nearby store or go for a walk outside. You can also engage in a hobby or watch a few videos online. One of the most effective distractions there is to watch funny videos on social media or YouTube. It’s what 39% of people do to relieve stress.
I suggest watching cat videos, stand up comedy, or some topic that is completely unrelated to your work.
The experience of watching funny or entertaining content engages your mind and can lead to the release of dopamine which will put you in a better frame of mind. You’ll disrupt any sense of negativity and feel better about any upcoming meeting.
Project acceptance towards any outcome
The main reason why meetings are difficult is that there are often serious outcomes associated with them. It’s normal to get attached to these outcomes and to anticipate the result of a meeting.
While this may be hard to do, it is helpful to create a sense of detachment and to accept fully any outcome that appears from the event.
If you’re doing a job interview, then you naturally have a stake in getting positive feedback from your interviewers. However, the knowledge that such an interview is critical will trigger the survival mode in your mind and make you feel nervous.
When you rationally think about the potential outcomes, you’ll realize that they are important but they are rarely life and death situations. You can move on and grow, even when you hear any information you don’t like. Try to commit to accepting any outcomes, whether you get the job or not, and you’ll feel a sense of calm.
You’ll actually do better in your interview or presentation, which will work in your favor. And if you don’t get the job, you’ll find it easier to move on and do better the next time.
There is a commonly accepted but unconscious belief that stress is a good thing because it keeps us on our toes and helps us think quickly. While our flight or fight system is critical for helping us survive in the wild, it is inappropriate in work situations.
You’ll do far better in meetings, interviews, and negotiations when you feel calm and confident. In this post, we’ve covered several powerful tips that you can easily apply to deal with stressful meetings. Put them into practice and you’ll get better outcomes from your interactions with others.