Administrative Assistants and the Art of Maintaining Calm

Let’s be real … if your department runs like a Swiss watch and there is little to no unexpected drama, you probably have a great administrative assistant at the center of all the action. Admins do a lot of the dirty work to make sure everything goes smoothly in the department, such as making sure employees have the supplies they need to work, keeping scheduled appointments, receiving messages and much, much more. And, in a fast-paced work environment, admins are often the calming force of the department … sometimes even more than the manager.

Here are several ways admins stay cool and keep their heads even when everything around them is going crazy:

Breathe
Stress causes hormones in the brain to prepare the body for a “fight or flight” scenario, according to Inc. magazine. This involves an increased heart rate, perspiration and more blood flowing to muscles throughout someone’s core and limbs. The best way to calm the body quickly is slow, deep breaths. Inhale a bunch of air, then slowly exhale, counting to 10. Ask whoever is experiencing anger or anxiety to join in.

Ask questions
When an administrative assistant sees his or her boss getting worked up over an issue, simply asking a question can be a welcome distraction. Dr. Albert J. Bernstein, a clinical psychologist, was interviewed by the blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Bernstein said that any tactic that slows the conversation is essential. Try asking: “What do you need from me?” Or try saying: “Please slow down. I’d like to help.” Both of these require the person under pressure to stop and think. The only question to steer clear of is “What if…?” Giving the anxious party an opportunity to speculate on potential outcomes could lead them into a tailspin; it opens the floodgates to all the unpleasant outcomes that could happen.

Encourage positivity
Workers who constantly find themselves in situations that cause an enormous amount of stress need to focus harder on staying positive. Negativity is the best way to increase stress and distort perceptions of reality. While admins certainly don’t need to have a smile painted on their faces 24/7, it helps to remind the boss of the positive events and successes he or she is responsible for if he or she struggles to prepare for the next challenge.

Remember stress can be good
Psychology Today notes that some stress is a good thing, otherwise employees would be bored or unmotivated to complete assignments. An administrative assistant who feels that they are under enormous pressure themselves should check their stress levels to make sure they aren’t taking on too much. An over-worked admin can’t support a business well. While stress can make one more alert, it can also lead to extreme anxiety, which decreases performance.

A good administrative assistant is like a rock star in the department. If you’re an admin yourself, thank you for everything you do. If you’re not an admin, but benefit from the hard work yours puts in, make sure to let them know you appreciate them today.

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