People who are in very stressful job really benefit from stress management and communication skills training. Participants learn skills that can make their work and personal life easier and less stressful. One participant who drives a bus in the City of San Francisco recently told us that she had used some specific techniques to create better communication and prevent a potential conflict from occurring.
“It was the busiest part of the day. My coach was filled to capacity and one of the streets on my route was blocked off so I had to go around. Normally, in regular traffic, people are tense and uptight trying to get to work. I had to go around to another street which was a little out of the way.” She said this would take her about five extra minutes to go around but she couldn’t go through the regular way. She knew that people would start complaining. “In the past, I wouldn’t explain what was going on. I’d just continue driving. If passengers were rude, I’d be rude back. One person started saying, “Hey, where are you taking us?” and other people started getting upset.
The operator told us that she thought about what to do instead of immediately answering back. “I took a deep breath and then made an announcement. I said “Excuse me, folks, but the street we normally go on was blocked and there was no way to go through so I had to drive up another street. I know everyone is trying to go home and I’ll get you there as quickly as I can.”
When we asked what the passengers did, she replied they calmed down and a few even said thanks for letting them know what was going on. The situation could have gone the other way with the operator and passengers shouting at each other. Here are the techniques this operator used:
- When in a stressful situation, take a deep breath. This will calm you down and give your mind time to think. It will also help you detach from the emotional side – put yourself in the other person’s head.
- Take a look at it from the passenger’s viewpoint and imagine how they might feel.
- Determine your goal. In this case, it was to get people to their destination calmly despite a slight routing change.
- Give information about the situation so that they don’t blame you.
- Don’t engage in mutual shouting. It will only escalate the problem and you’ll fell worse. Don’t allow other people’s reactions to control your life.
- Finally, take another deep breath so you can be ready for the next problem.