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Wellbeing / Stress management

Tips for staying calm under pressure

Being a soloist is sometimes stressful, and high stress levels can impact on your communication style, which may ultimately damage your relationships. Here are some tips for staying calm under pressure.

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I recommend the acronym CALM to help you stay cool as a cucumber in stressful situations. It stands for:

C: Courage to step back
A: Analyse your options
L: Logic instead of emotion
M: Master of actions versus reactions

Here’s my step-by-step approach to staying calm under pressure in your business and your life.

Courage to step back

Stressful situations can become quite emotional, so gather your thoughts before responding. If you’re communicating via email, it’s particularly easy to hit Send before calming down from an angry state.

Remember that replying to an email that causes you stress doesn’t have to be done immediately. Take control of the situation by allowing yourself some time out.

"You can control how you feel and react to any situation. You cannot control how others feel or react."

C could also stand for “Change your perspective.” Step into the shoes of the person that you’re having difficulty communicating with, and see, hear and feel the situation through their eyes, ears and emotions.

Want more articles like this? Check out the stress-management section.

Analyse your options

Depending on your situation, consider these questions:

  • What’s the most appropriate response to the situation given what you know about the other person’s communication style?
  • Do you have enough facts to make an informed decision?
  • Have you heard what the other person has to say without becoming defensive or shifting into win-lose thinking?

Logic instead of emotion

Look at the facts and detach them from the emotional component of the situation.

To be able to do this, it’s important to look after yourself so that when a difficult situation arises you’re less likely to be affected by the emotional component.

Some strategies include:

  • Breathing deeply from the diaphragm: This helps relax the muscles and allows oxygen to flow to the brain so that you can think more rationally.
  • Regular exercise: Something as simple as taking a walk can clear the head while using nervous energy in a constructive way.
  • Become an objective observer: Stand back from the situation and experience it as if you were a detached observer.

Master of actions versus reactions

You can control how you feel and react to any situation. You cannot control how others feel or react. So, to quote Stephen Covey, it’s important that you do what you can within ‘your circle of influence’.

By recognising and checking your reactions, intentions and assumptions you’re able to be the master of your own actions.

What are your tips for staying calm under pressure? Please share below.

Maria Pantalone

works with individuals and teams in developing their business communication skills. Her company, Infinite Growth, provides training in presentation skills, business writing and leadership development. Armed with these skills, there is nothing a business person cannot achieve.

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