Event planners take pride in appearing unruffled, calm and collected, but this can be super challenging in certain situations. Here are some tactics for ‘keeping your cool’ at all times.
Remaining calm is important, particularly when dealing with high-pressured situations. Handling problems like a pro makes you look more professional, confident and in control and others are more likely to respect and respond accordingly.
For client facing roles such as event planning keeping a professional edge is doubly important as you deal with clients, represent your brand and manage people’s safety. Whether you are dealing with difficult clients, unreliable vendors, high profile celebrities or complaining attendees, emotions and tensions can run high. Large outbursts and displays of anger or frustration can hinder your event career. Here is how you rise above the stress and frustration in these situations to remain as cool as a cucumber and stay calm at all times - or appear so on the outside at least!
Give It A Name
Identify the stress or frustration and know exactly what is causing the build up because knowing from the outset what you are dealing with can help you to avoid spiralling and dwelling on hypotheticals. Looking the stress causer right in the eye and fully understanding what the issue is can make it seem less daunting or annoying and help come up with a solution to fix the problem because once you know exactly what it is, you can deal with it!
Have Faith in Yourself
Often, the reason we have an outburst is because we don’t feel like we can deal with a situation and become overwhelmed and we forget how strong we actually are. Thinking of your achievements and what you have dealt with can replicate a feeling of being in control and accomplishment which gives you a boost in confidence and allows you to change your mentality. Remembering a time where you overcame other stresses or issues can squash harmful emotions and help you remain calm in the present moment. You can deal with it! Eventprofs can deal with anything!
Reduce Immediate Reactions
This is particularly useful for those with short fuses because responding “off the cuff” can often lead to conflict and is the fastest way to miscommunication and the problems that causes. Take a second to pause or ask to discuss things further before making a decision, just give yourself a moment to look at the situation and take it in before responding. This will often stop you from saying something that could aggravate the situation or taking the wrong course of action.
Although decisions need to be dealt with efficiently, especially in a fast-paced situation, if taking an extra minute to respond will save a wrong choice or a fiery reaction you will actually be saving time overall. The footballer Wayne Rooney has anger management issues so he was given this very advice by his coach. On the pitch, in pressured situations, you will often see him fiddling with his socks. This small trick gives him the “time-out” moment he needs to pause and respond in a calm manner.
Often criticism is useful but packaged in the wrong way so don’t take it so personally or as a direct attack (even if that is how they meant it). Instead, take their power away by:
- taking it on board
- looking at the facts of the situation
- processing if it can make you better (there is always room for improvement)
- appreciating the opportunity to see someone else’s’ point of view.
Try responding along the lines of “I am sorry that you see it that way…”. Dealing with customer complaints effectively is an important skill to learn.
Turning negative feedback into a learning opportunity will not only benefit yourself and make you a better eventprof but it will stick it to all the haters when you are far more successful than them and they helped you get there! If there is truth in the criticism pledge to make improvements. If it is ungrounded instead learn from the way you handled another person's unreasonable behaviour.
Also it’s important to remember that many feel like failures when they see other people’s successes and this has nothing to do with you, it is their insecurities which leads them to criticize others, so there will never be anything you can do to change this.
Lean On Support
Your support system can be anything and doesn’t have to be someone you can delegate tasks that are stressful! When you are feeling overwhelmed, lean on family, friends or your event team to help get you through it, even if you just need them to be a sounding board or someone you can vent to (so you don’t explode somewhere else). You would be surprised how many people feel the same way and are trying to remain calm themselves so offering an outlet by leaning on each other can lead to a better event team and can bring you all closer, particularly in high-pressure situations and approaching deadlines.
If you get an email that might make you lose your cool, take a second before replying, re-read and remember that words can often be misconstrued, so consider getting a second opinion. If you still feel the same opt to give them a ring or meet them instead to try to calm and understand the situation more fully. It is easy to get words and meanings confused and dealing with someone directly helps to navigate their body language or voice tone to actually understand what they meant which could save an entire conflict. Plus, speaking directly can get situations solved a lot faster than backward and forwards emailing or messaging which is better for time productivity too.
Take care of yourself, remaining calm can actually be very taxing mentally and physically but you can’t expect yourself to be on top form if you are ‘hangry’, overtired or your mental health is suffering. Practice self-love and ensure that you are getting as much high-quality sleep as possible, particularly if you know you have the event day or a stressful situation coming up because being tired is going to make you more cranky and less adept at dealing with challenging circumstances.
Try to eat healthily and put an emphasis on health and fitness as well as avoiding caffeine because it affects your adrenaline levels which are more likely to put you “on edge” to make a knee-jerk reaction or makes you more emotional and will give you a much harder time keeping calm.
Focus On The Present
Don’t live in hypotheticals, constantly asking “what-if” because aside from being a waste of time, it will also work you up and make you more likely to snap. The chances are, what you can imagine or concoct will be a lot worse than what happens so only focus on what is actually happening now and worry about the future when it happens.
Also, focusing on the present involves not letting the past, whether it is mistakes or previous confrontations, affect your behaviour now. Dwelling on past events can increase stress and put you on edge, any time something new goes wrong you instantly compare it to what happened previously and it makes you more frustrated and angry than before. Start each situation with a clean slate and you’ll find you are already calmer!
Assess Your Motives
Regulate yourself in the same way that you would others, why are you behaving in a certain way and are you in the right frame of mind to respond? Are you just trying to retaliate or will what you are doing serve a purpose? Asking yourself these questions can avoid you getting petty and argumentative and falling into the trap of winding yourself up. Plus it is a great way to keep productivity in check and allows you to put your focus and effort into things that actually matter.
Event planners are used to managing the expectations of clients and unrealistically high expectations can lead to disappointments. Always ensure you are managing your own expectations as well. Stop demanding things of yourself that are unattainable. There is a fine line between wanting a challenge and to excel or hit targets and setting yourself up for failure, which is not going to help in keeping you calm at all.
When you become so involved and absorbed by an activity, event project or even your career in general it becomes overpowering and all consuming and anything that hinders or threatens that immediately becomes your opposition and there is no way to remain calm. Train yourself to disconnect, whether that is from technology, your role or just taking a day for yourself or enjoying a hobby to ensure that you don’t make on thing your all consuming focus. If you don’t take a step back and appreciate the other things you have in your life, there is no way you will remain calm because everything will always be at stake and this addiction to event planning can become unhealthy.
Positive Mental Attitude
Patience does not come naturally to many people and this can make it feel like remaining calm is unattainable, however this is not the case. Daily practice can help achieve more natural patience so it requires less hard work to stay cool and calm. You can do this by picturing yourself in everyday situations that would challenge you and imagining how you would handle it when things go wrong. By walking through how you would cope with challenging situations in your mind's eye you will be better prepared to handle the issues that do arise.
Elite sports men and women picture a competition or a race again and again, picturing what they will do and how they will handle it to win the race. This can trick or train the brain into emulating this success.
A lot of stress and issues actually arise from a lack of planning, being surprised or the unexpected and although you can’t account for everything, you can negate some of these issues by meticulous planning and organisation. Doing research and having a backup plan or someone else you can contact if something falls through is great peace of mind. Create alternatives and run through different scenarios of elements that could go wrong and that way if something does happen you already have a plan B and don’t have to skip a beat.
The Last Resort
Sometimes life gets too much and no matter how hard we try not to let it affect us, it can still get to us. If this happens, walk away, take a minute to compose yourself and a couple of deep breaths, then hold your head high and deal with the situation. Remind yourself that it is not the end of the world, although the situation may seem like the worst thing in the world right now, if it is not a life and death situation it’s impact will reduce and be forgotten over time. In the meantime it is about dealing with it however you can and trying to keep some perspective.
Remaining calm in tricky situations is the sign of a successful event professional but you should always remember that nobody is perfect. However, hopefully these tips will aim to combat or reduce stress and frustration to help you remain calm and collected regardless of the difficult situation you are facing.