The more stressful a situation, the worse the decisions you make? Then you should urgently try the STOP rule!
Who can confirm this: We work best when we are relaxed and can concentrate on one thing. Feet up, cup of tea in front of your nose, cell phone somewhere in a parallel universe and everything is easy. In situations like this, we often have the best ideas and make excellent decisions. If, on the other hand, we are under pressure - get an e-mail here, hear our daughter calling and see the clock running faster and faster in the upper right corner of the monitor - it is more difficult to keep track of things and make prudent decisions. Too bad that the latter is unfortunately much more common in everyday life than idleness! But how good that there is a solution to the problem: The STOP rule.
How does the STOP rule work?
The STOP rule is a method with which we can specifically get out of a (stressful) situation in order to sort our thoughts. It was developed by the author and consultant Timothy Gallwey back in the seventies, but it is apparently still popular in the coaching field today. Business coach and "all-in-one" publisher, Frank Pyko, explains the purpose of the strategy to manager magazine "Impulse" as follows: "The point of a STOP is to recognize what is really important. This enables better decisions." And we immediately believe that!
The following four steps belong to a STOP and should therefore help us to distinguish the important from the unimportant:
1. S - Step back
In stressful situations we tend to act blindly and "just do something". We have to counteract this impulse with the first step of a STOP - by taking a targeted pause, i.e. stopping all activities, leaning back in our imagination, taking a deep breath and ideally removing our thoughts from the current situation and maybe thinking about something else.
2. T - Think
In the second step, we return to the current situation and analyze it by entering into a dialogue with ourselves. The following questions can be helpful in this step:
- What is happening now?
- What's up?
- How am I mentally and physically?
- What do i really want
- What's the best or the worst that can happen?
- Or: What are the three most important questions for me now?
3. O - Organize your thoughts and options
Step three is there to sort our thoughts and weigh decision options. Questions like:
- What alternatives do I have?
- What are my priorities - and where should they be?
- What would I need to be able to make better decisions?
- What can I do without?
This step should give us a rough idea of what to do next - because ...
4. P - Proceed
... now we have already reached the end of the STOP: Carrying on. Now we should be able to pick up again what we broke off at S and continue calmly.
How practicable is the STOP rule in everyday life?
Admittedly, putting in a STOP like this when there is a fire in five different corners may sound like an impossibility at first. But in fact it would often make sense and help if we did - after all, we usually actually work better, leaning back and with our feet on the table, and rarely does it really burn in five corners at the same time, but only in our perception. Depending on the situation, 30 seconds are sometimes enough to take a fresh look at the situation and relax internally, but investing more time is almost always worthwhile.