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Communicating Using the CALM Approach to Relieve Stress

July 2024

Karen Ensle EdD, RDN, FAND, CFCS
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County

As a parent, employer, or friend, creating trusted relationships are critical in stressful situations.
Follow the CALM method for improved outcomes and less nerve-wracking hours of worry and heartache.

"C" Connect and communicate at the first inkling of a stressful situation. You want to create trust before uncertainty arises. Being a trusted person will help to calm you, so you can build stronger relationships by learning all the ins and outs of a current situation. Regularly discussing issues of importance and defining disagreements with the attitude that everyone may have different opinions of a situation is a MUST. Any or all solutions need to be considered. Everyone needs to keep their minds open to all possibilities. This positive action will help to define a possible outcome that all parties can accept.

"A" Acknowledging that you are willing to compromise and share how you might solve the problem guarantees everyone's participation in discussions. Remember to be open to others' opinions as communication of information between all parties is expressed and honored as a possible solution to the problem. Facts and information might change over time which will lead to new discussions. One must always honor what is fact at the time information is being gathered. New factual information can change the discussion and influence the potential solution to the problem.

"L" Lead the discussion with individual choices of all people who are invested in the outcome. Resistance and pushback is evident when all possible solutions are not identified and part of the discussion. Solutions need to be broad-based and keep the people, their families, work, home and community in their thoughts and potential actions to be taken. Individual ownership of the choices selected may help a person feel more connected to the benefits for them and those around them. In general, listening is one of the most critical (and underused) communication skills. Especially in conflict situations, listening may not happen because both parties are invested in expressing their positions. Collaborative conflict resolution requires active listening and asking good questions.

"M" Maintain consistency, composure and commitment to those solving an issue. When stress arises, those working on solving the problem, especially the Leader, must be a person that is trusted by the group and shows regularity in their actions and comes up with solutions that take in everyone's ideas. This sets a tone of positivity and mutual connections to work things out.

Remember, positivity and composure allow for honest discussion and involvement of each member of the group. Make sure all commitments and timelines for solutions are set and all persons are part of the final solutions and outcomes. Take small steps in communicating to others in stressful situations and your final solutions will bring trust and positive responses to all involved. Unwind, relax, and deepen into the present while not letting people pull you into their storm. "To be calm is the highest achievement of the self."