Ps and Qs Education

Calm over chaos

When things start getting tensed, remember to take a chill pill

As a language enthusiast, I often try to explore the roots of expressions or phrases and reflect on how we tend to use them. One such expression that recently caught my fancy is “take a chill pill” or just “chill”.

Apparently, the phrase has its origins in the early 1980s, referring to a kind of medication that induced calmness. Of course this expression has, over time, become quite a popular slang, mostly used when someone is telling us to relax and calm down.

However, in a formal environment such as the workplace, we may not always be able to tell stressed co-workers “to take a chill pill” as it may not always go down well. But we could certainly champion the need to be calm at all times, to the extent possible. This may be especially relevant for the times we live in, infected with anxiety and ambiguity.

After all, the ability to stay calm and act decisively is perhaps one of the greatest indicators of leadership, especially in difficult circumstances. And we don’t need to be in positions of authority to demonstrate leadership and exercise this sense of calm. Fortunately (and perhaps not so fortunately), life throws several situations at us, giving us ample opportunities to navigate stress by staying calm.

Helping others understand

I am full of admiration for individuals unruffled by stressful situations, who indirectly instil confidence in the people around them, through their stoic and comforting presence. I particularly recall a work situation from a long time ago, when a former boss gave us clear, concise and helpful instructions laced with dark humour, when we had to edit and put together content on the 9/11 attacks. This individual’s wisdom and wit helped us objectively approach the task and complete it with diligence and discretion.

We can see the same qualities in some younger individuals too. I have been lucky to work with younger colleagues who exude calm and positivity even when things tend to go south. So, this particular quality needn’t be attributed to wisdom brought on by age or professional experience alone. It could simply be a decision: a decision to choose calm over chaos and panic. Perhaps, this is a choice we could all make in our day-to-day lives, especially when we go through dynamic routines and unpredictable circumstances; or when we are at the receiving end of too much information and misinformation.

Of course, being prepared with the right information, being proactive, taking the right decisions and steps are all necessary and key in any environment, whether the circumstances are extraordinary or not. A calm mindset, perhaps, helps these good old tenets of professionalism to flourish.

So, any time things tend to overwhelm us, we could simply take a chill pill. A few minutes of calm, and we will probably know what to do.

The writer is a literary journalist. She also heads Corporate Communications at UST Global. Twitter: @anupamaraju

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 12:53:29 PM |

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