This year we sold our first home and moved into to a new home. As we navigated through the process of buying and selling a home, there were unexpected problems that would suddenly pop-up – some small, others truly heart-pumping. But, in every case, when you throw two different personalities in the mix, every problem felt downright agonizing. And my Hubby’s reaction to my stress since the day we’ve met was to relax. And, yes, like most women, telling me to relax is a surefire death sentence. So here were some useful tips we learned for keeping cool when the unexpected problem arose:
- Breathe. Calm the reptilian brain – you know that part of your brain that is responsible for flight or fight, fear and rage. Put the phone down, resist compulsively sending those angry e-mails or texts (or maybe even throwing your phone at someone), and regain control by taking deep breaths. Breathe in and out, deeply and slowly, right down and into your belly. After hearing bad news, the Hubby and I would at times go for long walks and vent. Walks along really busy streets, on windy days, or anywhere where the occasional f-bomb or two could be muted, are perfect. But really, looking back, these walks were effective ways to boosts endorphins, alleviate stress, and key to keeping cool.
- Get the Facts. Now that you are calm, redirect your brain to gathering facts. Facts are harder to debate, alternative facts and fake news aside, so start with just the facts, m’am. Ask those What, Where, When, Who, How, Why questions. The Hubby is a sensing person – a here and now person – and sees things as they are. Me, on the other hand, I am more initiative and am more likely to follow my gut and jump to conclusions. Frustrations occurred because he needed mechanical details first – the particulars – and I wanted to understand their application. So, for me, slowing down, being as specific and concrete as possible, was key to keeping cool.
- Brainstorm. Accept all ideas, discuss all possible solutions and, more importantly, embrace the approach that sometimes there is no perfect answer, just the best one. Prevent misunderstandings and show your partner that you’re paying attention to them and care about what they’re saying. Use active listening techniques – When your partner speaks, paraphrase what they say. In addition to listening to your partner, you need to take their perspective and try to understand where they’re coming from. Much of his frustration with me was when conversations would bounce off in all sorts of directions. This drove his A to B to C mind crazy. So, taking a moment to listen first prior to forming an opinion, or likely a misunderstanding, is key to keeping cool.
- Agree on Messaging and Communicate. Make sure you and your partner understand why a decision was made. Confidently convey the information, leaving no room for interpretation, by preparing and rehearsing what you’re going to say and how. Hubby is a major introvert, so he pretty much left all types of communication to me. However, he would encourage me to be more concrete and direct in my messaging, and would at times look over my shoulder as I crafted e-mails and texts, despite my deep breaths of annoyance. Making sure you’re on the same page, and taking more deep breaths, is key to keeping cool.
- Focus on the Future. Now that that’s done, redirect your brain back to the big picture and to goals. Buying and selling a home is an inherently unpredictable process, but the more you learn about the process, the easier it is to see potential pitfalls and deal with both future small and heart-pumping problems. And of course, keep cool.