Deal With Stress

Manage Stress and Take Control of Your Space

holiday at the beachA short while ago I went to see the fabulous saxophonist Kenny G play at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. I’ve seen him twice before, the first time at the large Manchester Arena and the second time at a somewhat smaller venue. It was his first visit to this particular hall and I was interested to see how a rather more formal location would work out for him.

When I arrived I could see that he was stood behind a table in the large entrance hall, chatting to people, signing their concert tickets and smiling for photographs. He was happily engaging with fans, treating them as welcome guests, answering questions in a relaxed, easy-going manner, setting the mood for a pleasant, fun evening. Yes, there were a couple of security men nearby, but they were managing the queue rather than providing protection for him.

Kenny G stayed in the foyer until it was time for the concert to start. Then he simply picked up his saxophone and entered the concert hall through the centre aisle, playing as he walked. Over the course of the evening he played many of his popular, familiar tracks, but occasionally introduced us to some of his new material. He told us where he was staying, where he’d been the previous few days, shared stories and anecdotes about his travels, about his son, even invited us to join him for a drink in his local drinking den afterwards.

He introduced us to his band and we discovered that they’d worked together for many years, had a great relationship, yet sometimes went off to follow their own projects. Each musician was given their time in the spotlight, their opportunity to shine, and those with CD’s were able to sell them. It was made clear that all the band would be in reception after the show, available for photographs and autographs.

Intentional or not I feel that there is a lot we can learn from Kenny G about managing stress and taking control of our space, especially when in a new, unfamiliar environment.

– We may be very comfortable with our skills and area of expertise but when working in a new place it’s a good idea to arrive in plenty of time to familiarise ourselves with the surroundings. Musicians like to arrive early for sound checks and practice but choosing to mix with customers and patrons, being genuinely interested in them not just trying to sell more product, showing how much you love your work, how happy you are to be there, how appreciative you are of the opportunity ensures that everyone in the room feels great about the time spent together.

– Kenny G gave us, his customers, what we wanted to hear, the familiar standards we know and love. Only then did he introduce his new material. Giving customers what they’re looking for encourages them to be more receptive when new products are introduced. We feel respected and become more positive about trying new suggestions and innovations.

– Occasionally when things didn’t go to plan his good humour meant that the audience was understanding, forgiving and tolerant. Everyone laughed at the concert when there was a slight delay or something didn’t go quite right. Taking the time to build a good relationship with the audience meant that a stressful situation didn’t arise when it possibly could have.

– His team felt respected, supported, included as professionals in their own right. It was evident that he regarded each of his musicians as skilled and capable; they wouldn’t have been there if he didn’t. But treating them with respect, telling us little stories about them, giving each of them solo opportunities felt inclusive and showed that there was genuine affection and mutual regard between them.

Managing stress in new situations may take a little time and forethought but it pays dividends in terms of building a positive atmosphere and good customer relations. I found the Kenny G concert to be a valuable experience for several reasons. Apart from his wonderful music it was a treat to see the way he managed his environment and took control of his space.

Author Bio: Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief, with couples experiencing relationship difficulties to improve communications and understanding and with business clients to support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams.

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