I interviewed Rebecca Sharon (Neuman) Hartley who discussed Stress Management Techniques Purchasing Professionals Can Use.
It’s good to speak to you again, Rebecca. This is an interesting topic. I’m looking forward to hearing your views today regarding stress management, which is relevant to supply chain and procurement professionals, as well as any kind of professional these days. My first question is: Can you explain what stress and stress management are?
Sure. Stress is something that is any kind of stress, not a specific response to the body, any demand placed upon the body is a stress. That automatically triggers some of our primitive reactionary modes, which is the fight-or-flight response. We’re either ready to fight for our lives to survive or run away in order to save our lives.
Now that we don’t really have that major conflict, we still have that same symptom inside of us, which a lot of people feel as anxiety or panic attacks, or they might even think they’re having a heart attack because their heart rate goes up, they start sweating, sweating from the tops of their heads, their hands get all sweaty. Unfortunately, that’s right when your boss is talking to you about the status of your report. It’s not like you can just walk away; you have to address it and confront it.
What I would suggest when you’re in a stressful situation like that—I’m going to give you a few tips. One is called distraction. To distract yourself, sometimes what we can do is try to focus in on what he’s saying and block everything out. It’s kind of hard to do, so you use a breathing technique.
It’s just a matter of making sure you’re breathing in through your nose and then releasing out, slowly. Releasing all the air out so you have to breathe. What happens is, when you’re having an anxiety attack, you’re not breathing. I found with a couple of my students—because I’m a yoga teacher now—when I see my students, they’re suddenly getting all panicky and stuff because they’re in a difficult position, they’re holding some sort of muscular position. I’m like, “Are you breathing?”
It seems so simple, but it’s true. Check yourself. Are you breathing right now? Are you holding your breath? That’s something very simple they can do. Just do a quick check on your body, and make sure you’re breathing properly. That’s one of the first things you can do to cope with a very stressful situation that you feel you might be having a heart attack.
Now, the next thing to do with distraction is to use music or a trip to the bathroom is one I always do. If my boss is there and I’m like, Oh my God and I’m waiting on a phone call and all these things are going on before I can give him an answer, they don’t care about that; just want that answer. What you can do is say, “Can you excuse me for a moment? I have to go to the washroom.”
You go to the washroom, sit in your stall, and you just sit there and relax for a moment. Basically, all you needed to do was get away from that intense moment, gather yourself, catch your breath, relax. You’re inside of a stall; nobody can see what you’re doing in there.
I would suggest doing some deep-breathing techniques, where you would just breathe in through your nostrils for three seconds and then breathe out for six seconds through your nostrils. If it’s hard to breathe through your nose, you can do it through your mouth as well. Just take a deep breath, hold it in for, like, three seconds, and then blow it out for six seconds. That’s one really good way to do it.
The other thing I do sometimes is, I have an aromatherapy technique I use, where I just put a little bit of a scent, like lavender, under my nose. It instantly puts me in a good mood. Talk about instant relief; it’s seriously good stuff. There might be something you really enjoy the scent of.
What I’m finding with a lot of my students is that all of our senses are not really reaching properly these days, and I think it’s because there’s a lot of tension, radiation, all these kinds of pollutants in the environment that we might not be sure we’re actually being affected by it, but we are.
Cell phone use, it’s very dangerous to hold by your ear all the time. And what about cancer and all these kinds of things that are starting to show up more and more as years go on with all these new uses of technology? A lot of people say, to get some special headphones that have graphite around the inner rings of the headphones, and keep that cell phone away from your body. Keep it away. Use those functions where you can use hands-free apparitions. We might not realize it, but we’re on the phone too much; really, we are.
And also, with looking at the TV screen all the time—monitors, laptops. All of them have gotten better, but still. Take time to have your hands warm by using water, putting some nice, warm water on your hands. What you can do is take your hands when they’re drying off and—it’s called palming—you put your hands over your eyes for a few moments, and you try to just see blackness.
Try to use blackness for about three minutes, and try not to think of anything. Just see blackness. Use the breathing techniques and try to relax. Take your hands down, put them on your lap, your eyes closed, and just breathe in and relax. I guarantee, within five minutes, you’ll return back to you normal self. All those things will come back to you that you had to tell your boss about, and now you can react in a calm manner and be more successful at work and a healthier person, indeed.
Do you have any examples of how this is relevant for purchasing professionals?
I think that everybody has the same kind of stressors. We’re always under the gun to get the right price or sometimes through tough negotiations. I find a lot of times, we’ll get into a stalemate because I’m not going to budge on something and neither is the supplier. That’s one of those times you take a break in a negotiation and perhaps practice that coping technique.
When you’re in a negotiation and it’s getting very successful, you might damage a really good relationship or you might lose out on a really good deal. You always have to be really calm in your negotiations because it’ll give you the upper hand too. That’s a good time, when everybody’s too stressed out in a negotiation meeting, take a quick break, go to the washroom, try those techniques, and relax.
Don’t get up from a phone to call a bunch of other people. That is your client time to get your thoughts together, be calm, and come back. I swear you’ll get what you’re after.
Can you provide a brief background of yourself? Do you have any experiences you can share from your work experience in purchasing and procurement?
Sure I can. I had a lot of trouble when I first started out. I was in a business that was an incineration business, which was not exactly, I’d say, a safe place to be. We were dealing with all kinds of environmental issues that could’ve been dangerous to someone’s life. That made my purchasing job—say if I bought the wrong stuff and just blew up in a hospital. That would be a real bummer.
I took my job so seriously that I put myself under a considerable amount of stress, and it really didn’t have to be that bad. It’s good to make sure you’re doing your job properly, but you also want to be able to, especially when you’re young and eager to prove yourself, take a step back for a moment because when you try too hard, that’s when that stress comes too. There’s good stress and bad stress, but when you put it on yourself because you have this self-responsibility, well, there’s another self-responsibility inside of us to take better care of ourselves.
The competition is always so strong in our culture that we really have to think about the other person sometimes. Put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, and I swear you will be a better person for it. We’re all living in this world together. If we all start acting more responsibility and less in a competitive mode all the time, we’ll be more at peace with ourselves and will be able to handle ourselves better.
Thank you for sharing today.
Thank you. My background as a yoga teacher, it’s Hatha yoga that I learned how to do that taught me so much. I’m so grateful to my teacher from India. Poonam Gupta had taught me so from a different perspective. We had to look outside of my own American culture and look through her eyes from India at what I was doing. I swear, it was the biggest eye opener I’ve ever seen in my life. I still use all the techniques from purchasing that I used as a CPM, and now I fix myself form the inside out, and I can help people even more now that I have this information.
I hope this can help the supply chain and procurement professional community for this blog. Hopefully this will help some people.
I hope so too. Everybody, be well!
About Rebecca Sharon (Neuman) Hartley, C.P.M.
Tel: 630-791-8107 or Skype sheshy111
Rebecca Sharon (Neuman) Hartley