Be More Like "The Bear"

language stress stress management

If you have ever worked in a restaurant, you know that there is a language that everyone seems to know and understand what it means. It is like watching a conductor of an orchestra. The conductor is the chef, and everyone playing an instrument knows what the chef/conductor asks of them.


If you haven’t experienced this culture, watch The Bear Season 2 Episode 10. Brené Brown also talked about this in her book Atlas of the Heart. She talks about the understanding the wait staff has when a co-worker says, “I am in the weeds,” versus, “I am blown”.


I have brought this into my life when I know I will manage a difficult situation. When I am with someone who can hold me accountable, I will let them know my safe language. This safe language is generally, “I need a Piña Colada,” which means that I can tap out for 10 minutes, gain my center, and come back to the situation being proactive vs reactive and regret my behavior. 


As a single mom, it was as easy as saying, “Mom needs a time out because I am not being a kind mama.” I set my timer, and my daughter knows not to interrupt me.


What in the world does this mean for retail? Retail is stressful. Add the holiday season, and it is a recipe for your staff to behave reactively. Helping your staff proactively manage stress can be as easy as creating safe language when they feel overwhelmed, pressured, and stress beginning to come on.


When The Mann Group worked with Canyon Bikes call center, the staff was working remotely during the pandemic, and call after call after call was a frustrated, angry, and unhappy customer. The staff was getting beat down with no time for a break between calls to manage stress.


Now that we have identified what stress looks like and what causes stress, we can jump into a proactive approach to managing stress day-to-day. 


Now, ask yourself what would be culturally sound words for you and your staff to define and understand. For example, Canyon Bikes came up with a slow leak, flat, and blowout and defined what each word meant for the team when someone typed in “I have a flat”.


Once your team decides on the phrases or words, you must be specific in what they mean. Go back to The Bear. “Heard” or "behind Chef" are notorious in a kitchen. Why? What do they mean? What do they communicate? 


You will want to do the same with your team.


Brené says that in the weeds is used when a person is near or beyond their capacity to handle a situation or cannot catch up. Everyone knows what to do to get this person caught up.


These words should be fun, industry-specific, and even cultural to your town or a movie. I don't drink piña coladas, but the word makes me smile and reminds me that I can calm down.


And if you want to alleviate stress on your team, do your best Val Garland, and make it a DOUBLE DING DONG DARLING!!!


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