A Simple Ritual to Be More Relaxed and Present in Conversations

How to create a connection with anyone by first choosing how you want to feel

Maria Urkedal York
Published in
7 min readFeb 22, 2022


Photo by Fleur Kaan on Unsplash

“Serenity now!” George’s father, Frank Constanza, shouts in the back of the car while throwing his hands in the air, getting angrier and angrier with his wife Estelle for taking up so much legroom in the car.

”I have to sit here like an animal! Serenity now!”

Clearly annoyed, George, who’s driving, asks Frank what he’s shouting to which Frank replies that it’s a technique from a relaxation tape his doctor gave for his high blood pressure.

“Are you supposed to yell it?” George asks while rolling his eyes.

“The tape wasn’t specific!”

I watched this episode of Seinfeld the other night as this classic show has become my go-to after-work wind-down activity. This scene in the car reminded me of how I, like Frank, also have my own technique for calming down and becoming more serene. Fortunately for my friends and family, mine doesn’t involve shouting prescribed phrases.

Our energy is contagious

A big reason for learning to regulate our emotions when we meet other people is that they’re affected by our emotions too. If we feel angry, nervous, judgemental, or edgy, the person we’re talking to also feels it, even on the phone or a video call. So if we’ve calmed ourselves down before a conversation, the people we’ll be meeting can feel calmer too.

If you’re anything like me, you meet or talk to people most days (thankfully). And even though you’re a sociable person, you can get nervous or feel stress, anxiety, and irritation ahead of, or during the conversation. Unless we’re able to quickly shift our emotions here, we risk leaving people with the same emotions we’re feeling. Or maybe even worse, with a sense that something wasn’t quite right. And that’s not what you want if you have an important call with a new client or prospect, a job interview, a presentation, or even a conversation with a family member, friend, or child.

As someone who often gets nervous, unfocused, or stressed ahead of conversations, I was relieved to find Dr. Marcia Reynolds’s…