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How to Keep it Cool and More Tips For a Better Life, Better Work

Find out how to gain control of conflicts in communication.

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COMMUNICATiONKeeping It Cool

A conversation or negotiation getting out of control? Refocus on agreement, Joseph Grenny says in an article in Harvard Business Review. “When people feel threatened, they tend to focus exclusively on areas of disagreement. It’s remarkable to see parties who agree on 90 percent of an issue obsess over and even magnify the 10 percent they disagree about. You can profoundly change the tone of a conversation by stopping this pathological divisiveness and saying something like, ‘Can I pause for a moment and point out what we both agree on?’ Then deliberately, slowly and sincerely you can enumerate common interests, beliefs or histories.”

PRODUCTIVITYAlternate Between Fun And Ugh

If you have items on your to-do list that for whatever psychological reason never seem to get done, Oliver Burkeman of The Guardian recommends this hack: “Spend an hour or two alternating between the most and least enticing items on your list, then the next most and least enticing, and so on, each time sugaring the pill of an important task with a pleasant one.”

TIME OFFBreak Down Holidays

Full-time employees expect a paid week or two per year — usually split between holidays and vacations. Steven D. Strauss, author of The Small Business Bible, suggests pooling these into a single bank of hours that employees can use as they see fit. So, instead of giving employees 11 holidays and five vacation days a year, give everyone 100 hours a year off to use how and when they want. This sort of plan promotes honesty, and shows you respect your staff as adults. Employees can schedule days off without calling in sick, or take half-days off, or even a couple of hours, when an emergency arises.

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BRAINSTORMINGStart Bold

When trying a new business venture, always try the wackier, quirkier stuff first, says Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp and author of the business bestseller Getting Real. “The deeper you get into a project, the more conservative it tends to get. Stranger ideas are more at home earlier in the process,” he recently wrote on his Twitter feed.

WISDOMEntrepreneur Beware

Every so often, you’ll read a news story about a seemingly street-smart businessperson who does something inexplicable, like wire hundreds of thousands of dollars to a man peddling a story about hidden gold involving the Ark of the Covenant, no less. The reason, as psychology writer Maria Konnikova points out in her The Grift podcast, is that entrepreneurial types are actually more susceptible to being conned. They’re risk-takers who trust their own judgment and know too much caution can be fatal. But the trait that made them a success is the same one that can spell their undoing. Take care if you’re one of those entrepreneurs whose boldness and lack of skepticism has been a key factor in your success.

FOCUSNarrate A Script Of Your Life

Having trouble staying focused on a mundane task like bookkeeping? Charles Duhigg, author of Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, suggests explaining to yourself what you’re going to do, as if it were a story. “If you need to improve your focus and learn to avoid distractions, take a moment to visualize, with as much detail as possible, what you are about to do. It is easier to know what’s ahead when there’s a well-rounded script in your head,” he said to Science of Us. Then it’s just a matter of going through the motions.

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 16 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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