How hospitality professionals keep their cool in high stress situations
The hospitality business is dynamic, demanding and exciting. It can also be stressful. Whether you’re working the front desk, handling requests as a concierge, managing the kitchen or wearing lots of hats as the manager, you need to find ways to de-stress and handle the pressure, especially during busy seasons and holidays.
Experienced managers learn to tackle their own stress privately, so it doesn’t carry over to the staff. One of the more commonly mentioned approaches is to use positivity as a buffer. Hotel managers are good at assessing their employees’ attitudes and strive to provide a positive work environment where they actively help and support their teams. Not only does their positive approach help the staff, it also helps them manage their own emotions.
Working in the hotel business requires employees at all levels to maintain a strict code of behavior. It’s simply not acceptable to have a melt-down in front of guests. But demanding situations and frustrations can boil over, so what can you do? In certain situations, “donning the mask” allows you to conceal your emotions for a few moments until you can walk away and vent in a back room. Then you can take a moment to review the interaction and adapt.
In other situations where it’s not as easy to walk away, such as a pressure-filled dinner service for a large group when food has to get out and you’re working on the line… you can employ other tactics in the moment.
Here are some suggestions to get you through the height of the rush:
- Take a second to stretch: move your shoulders around, stretch your neck and twist slightly at the waist. Release some tension in your upper back and shoulders.
- Breathe deeply: Deep breathing helps your body to slow down and relax… take slow breaths in and fully expand your chest, hold for a few seconds and slowly exhale.
- Be mindful: Focus only on the task at hand. Don’t think about later, tomorrow or what else you have to do. Just be present in the moment, and work steadily.
- Physically slow down: This doesn’t mean you actually move more slowly, but that you are doing things more consciously. Focus on what you’re doing and consider the best way to handle the task at hand.
- Use empowering self-talk: Tell yourself: “I can handle this.” “I am in control.” “I’m calm.” Your language can help you get through the crazy times and combat the stress reaction.
Things you can do after the rush that help build your coping skills:
- Get good quality sleep: Restorative sleep will give you the clarity of mind you need when things get heated at work. If you’re well-rested, you will naturally have more calming energy.
- Exercise: Regular exercise will boost your energy and make it easier to physically work through difficult times more effectively.
- Eat a well-balance diet: Getting the right nutrition to fuel your body helps you manage your emotions and your responses to challenging circumstance. If you can avoid over-indulging in alcohol, sugar and caffeine, you may find you are more centered during your workday.
- Stay hydrated: This goes along with eating well… don’t allow yourself to get de-hydrated, which can sap your energy and even make you feel dizzy. Keep a water bottle nearby and drink regularly throughout the day.
- Use your senses: Start practicing something like the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique shared by the Clayton Hotel Birmingham where all you have to do is acknowledge the following:
- 5 things you can see – whatever is in your view at the moment
- 4 things you can touch – a desk, a phone, a kitchen tool, picture frame, etc.
- 3 things you can hear – guests talking, phones ringing, music, etc.
- 2 things you can smell – coffee, lunch prep, flowers, etc.
- 1 thing you can taste – a piece of gum, a candy, coffee, soda, etc.
This only takes a moment or two and helps you practice focusing your attention in the moment.
- Talk: Find someone to talk to who understands the pressures and can offer additional support.
- Avoid negative people: Whenever possible, steer clear of the negative people who are all doom and gloom. If you can keep your positive outlook by surrounding yourself with those who have the same view, you’ll be better able to cope when the chips are down.
During particularly busy times, like Christmas or summer, you can help yourself cope with the extra hours and stress by taking good care of yourself and learning a few techniques to manage your emotions in the heat of the moment. Try some of these tips for combating stress in the moment and afterwards for building up your coping skills for the future.