Keeping Cool Under the Heat


The series of heat waves sweeping across the country this summer have been a welcome source of business activity for HVAC contractors reeling from successive regulatory blows, mild summers, and the nation’s economic malaise. Yet, the heat not only stresses compressors, it stresses customers, employees, and company owners. Losing your cool under the summer’s stress rarely works well for anyone but is especially detrimental if you’re the boss (i.e., the role model in your company). Here’s 11 ways to keep cool under the heat.

1. Take Ten. When you’re under stress and feel anger welling up, stop. Literally, count to ten. Under anger, your first reaction is rarely the best, or even a good reaction. Pausing for a ten count lets the anger wash over you and subside.

2. Reason Things Out. Anger is pure emotion. Before you let your emotions run wild, think through the outcome of your anger. When you think it through, you’ll realize blowing up will probably make things worse… a lot worse. Like magic, your anger lessens. It lessens because you’re using reason and logic, which is the opposite of emotion. You’re looking at the situation rationally, while anger is irrational.

3. Use a Proxy. A proxy is a substitute. Typically, it’s an inanimate object you can shower your rage upon that won’t be harmed or it won’t matter if it’s harmed. Some people use rubber stress balls. Others use handgrips.

4. Write It Out. Sometimes it helps to vent on paper (or digitally in today’s age). Just wait a day before clicking send. You’ll probably see things differently in the morning.

5. Confront the Situation While It’s Controllable. Some people are slow to anger. Their anger builds over time until it becomes seething rage or resentment. If this is you, confront the person or situation that’s causing your anger before it gets out of hand. You might want ask someone else to be present to ease the situation. The goal is to defuse the tension calmly and reasonably.

6. Vent to a Friend or Peer. You should have someone you can unload upon about an unreasonable customer, employee, partner, supplier, spouse, or kid who will listen, letting you vent, knowing it’s not about him or her. I’ve watched contractors vent on the Service Roundtable’s discussion list from time-to-time. Talking with peers, even electronically, seems to help.

7. Leave. If you know you’re getting ready to explode, vacate the premises. Take off. Go somewhere, anywhere. Yell to yourself in your truck and have a personal, private pity party. Don’t unload on or near your customers or employees. The only time they should think you’re angry is when you’re perfectly calm and using anger purposefully. When you really are angry, your customers and employees should only see calm.

8. Get Some Sleep. Lack of sleep makes you more irritable. Making sure you get enough sleep and stressing to your staff to get enough sleep is a good way to avoid anger in the first place. If you need it, go to a park and take a 30-minute catnap. You’ll return refreshed and calmer.

9. Exercise. Few contractors get enough exercise. An occasional round of golf doesn’t count. Neither does casting a Zebco or performing 12 ounce curls. Exercise releases endorphins, which are powerful, natural narcotics. Endorphins give you a better outlook on the world and make you less susceptible to fits of rage. Besides, a good workout is a great way to release some of the tension you’ve built up. It will help you sleep better too.

10. Eat Well. In addition to sleep and exercise, diet can affect your anger. If your blood sugar gets out of whack from your diet, your irritability can increase. If you’re eating on the run due to your workload, you can still eat a balanced diet.

11. Finally, Remember the Alternative. Whenever you’re tempted to think this summer’s hell, stop. It’s not hell. It’s Christmas. Would you rather have trouble keeping up or keeping busy? Slap a smile on your face when you start the day because the stress of this summer generates the type of problems we live to solve.

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable , HVAC’s largest business alliance. For $50 a month, the Service Roundtable provides contractors with sales, marketing, and business tools like direct mail, consumer newsletters, brochures, business forms, pricing templates and much more. The organization also features a free buying group that PAYS YOU and 24/7/365 email business support from other contractors and consultants. For a free tour call toll free 877.262.3341. You can contact Matt at the same number or by email at [email protected]. You can also connect with Matt on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter (@ComancheMktg), or his blog (

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