Stephen King’s movie Duel flashed before my eyes yesterday as my son drove back home from a doctor’s appointment. The rare time I leave work during midday to be with my family to support them.
We almost died yesterday due to road rage. Driving is getting worse out there and yesterday really impacted me deeply. My choice at the time, what I wanted to do, but didn’t, the shock and thinking how I am approaching a similar situation in the future.
My teenage son is more mature for his age than I was at the same age.
He is a good driver. “Yes, I know every parent thinks their child is perfect.”
We were in a merging lane in unfamiliar territory with two 18-wheeler trucks to the left. We were running out of road (in no man’s land and had to go somewhere with cars behind us) and my son tried to merge in the gap that was left between them both. No major braking was required as he was keeping up with traffic.
Trying to merge in traffic in the USA though is like “cutting in line” at Starbuck’s or a concert event. People do not like it when you get in front of them whether that be purposely and entitled, accidentally or just because you are in a rush. They aren’t even necessarily getting anywhere faster, but it is a rite of passage or something.
Let’s not even talk about using your car horn…
We heard the truck horn this time. The driver didn’t want to let us in. He sped up fast and tried to literally run us off the road.
He almost did. I see the road disappear, more grass, the large ravine to the right and the truck driver speeding up with more truck alongside us parallel than I have ever seen before in a merging lane. I have been driving along time and although I was a passenger in this case, I never came this close to a serious accident or even death.
My son plays hockey, but I think he should try NASCAR Racing. He stayed composed and “snuck it in” between both trucks without a tap.
Let’s move on right, no accident everyone safe.
Followed, tailgating, and a red stoplight next.
The truck driver gets out of his truck and confronts my son at the stoplight. Walks right up to the driver’s side door and starts yelling obscenities and threats at him.
My son did the right thing and rolled up the windows, locked the doors, did not stare back and engage.
We both stayed in the car numb.
I stared back thinking the worst would happen i.e. The truck driver pulling a gun, or thinking I should get out of the car and confront him, shock of what just happened, but after the truck driver’s rant he went back to his truck.
It happened so fast. I am grateful that nothing more serious happened, but this really shook my son and me. We did the right thing at the time, but after absorbing what just happened, the day after I am not sure I am that same person anymore…
Amazing to me how many people think they are right all the time. For this guy to even get out of his truck and confront us after what he did or almost did makes this situation even more difficult to comprehend.
Still thinking about last Friday…
What does this have to do with corporate life? I have been in a leadership role most of my career and remaining calm in difficult times is key for being successful by setting the right example for your team, clients, solving the actual problem and yourself.
Road rage vs. stress at work can impact you in similar ways by how you react to the situation.
Be C A L M
Remaining calm during a road rage incident is crucial for your safety and the safety of others on the road. Here are some strategies to help you stay calm:
- Practice Defensive Driving: The best way to avoid road rage incidents is to be a courteous and defensive driver. Anticipate the actions of other drivers, maintain a safe following distance, and use your turn signals.
- Stay Mindful: Pay attention to your emotions while driving. If you start to feel frustrated or angry, acknowledge those feelings and remind yourself that getting angry won’t solve anything.
- Plan Ahead: Leave for your destination with plenty of time to spare. Rushing can lead to frustration and stress.
- Listen to Calming Music or Podcasts: Create a playlist of your favorite calming songs or listen to an interesting podcast to keep your mind occupied and relaxed while driving.
- Practice Deep Breathing: If you feel anger rising, take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this several times to help calm your nerves.
- Avoid Eye Contact: If someone else on the road is exhibiting aggressive behavior, avoid making eye contact with them. This can sometimes escalate the situation.
- Use Positive Self-Talk: Remind yourself that road rage is dangerous and counterproductive. Say things to yourself like, “I’m in control of my emotions” or “Getting angry won’t help.”
- Stay Away from Aggressive Drivers: If you notice someone driving aggressively or displaying signs of road rage, try to put distance between yourself and that vehicle. Change lanes or take an exit if necessary.
- Ignore Provocation: If someone honks, gestures, or yells at you, don’t engage. Keep your focus on driving safely and don’t respond to their provocations.
- Report Aggressive Drivers: If you feel threatened by another driver’s behavior, consider reporting it to the authorities by calling 911 or a non-emergency line. Provide the location, a description of the vehicle, and its license plate number if possible.
- Pull Over Safely: If you find yourself becoming too emotional or overwhelmed, find a safe place to pull over and take a break. Use this time to calm down and collect your thoughts.
- Remember the Consequences: Think about the potential consequences of road rage, which can include accidents, legal trouble, and personal harm. This can help you maintain perspective.
- Take a Defensive Driving Course: Consider enrolling in a defensive driving course. These courses teach techniques for handling stressful situations on the road and can improve your overall driving skills.
- Seek Help if Needed: If you find that road rage is a recurring issue for you, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor. They can provide strategies for managing anger and stress.
Remember that road rage can have serious consequences, both legally and in terms of safety. It’s always better to stay calm and composed while driving to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road.
Be C A L M
Remaining calm at work when stressed is essential for your well-being and productivity. Here are some strategies to help you stay composed:
- Deep Breathing: Take slow, deep breaths to calm your nervous system. Inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale through your mouth for a count of four. Repeat several times until you feel more relaxed.
- Mindfulness and Meditation: Practice mindfulness techniques or short meditation sessions during breaks. These can help you stay focused and reduce stress.
- Time Management: Prioritize tasks and create a to-do list. Break larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps to prevent feeling overwhelmed.
- Stay Organized: Keep your workspace organized to reduce clutter-related stress. A clean and tidy workspace can help you think more clearly.
- Set Realistic Expectations: Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day. Don’t overcommit or take on too much work.
- Take Breaks: Regular breaks are essential. Step away from your desk, stretch, and clear your mind. Even a short walk can help reduce stress.
- Stay Hydrated and Eat Well: Dehydration and poor nutrition can exacerbate stress. Drink water regularly and choose healthy snacks and meals.
- Exercise: Physical activity can help release built-up tension. Incorporate regular exercise into your routine, even if it’s just a short walk during lunch.
- Social Support: Talk to colleagues or a trusted friend about your stress. Sometimes, sharing your feelings can provide relief and helpful perspectives.
- Positive Self-Talk: Challenge negative thoughts with positive self-talk. Replace self-criticism with statements like, “I can handle this,” or “I’ve overcome challenges before.”
- Time for Yourself: Set aside time outside of work for relaxation and hobbies. Engaging in activities you enjoy can help you unwind and recharge.
- Limit Distractions: Minimize distractions, such as turning off non-essential notifications or setting specific times for checking emails and messages.
- Learn to Say No: Don’t be afraid to decline additional tasks or responsibilities when your plate is already full. Politely assert your limits.
- Seek Feedback: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, discuss your workload with your supervisor. They may be able to provide support or delegate tasks more evenly.
- Consider Stress-Reduction Techniques: Explore stress-reduction techniques like yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery to find what works best for you.
- Take a Mental Health Day: If your stress becomes unmanageable, consider taking a mental health day to recharge and reset.
- Professional Help: If work-related stress is chronic and affecting your well-being, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor who specializes in stress management.
Remember that it’s okay to ask for help or take steps to reduce stress. Prioritizing your mental and emotional well-being is crucial for long-term success and happiness in your career.
I have been taking a moment to think about this situation. Ugh! Integrity and doing the right thing sometimes are very difficult. How my son or I reacted vs potentially how we could have reacted would have changed our lives and even our family’s forever.
Glad we made the right choice this time, very grateful we are safe, but I think I am going to stay home this weekend.
By the way I do not wish any harm on anyone, but I also know how the movie Duel ends.
It’s a tough world, but let’s show some courtesy and compassion out there…