Strategies to remain calm under pressure

 In Delivery, Luminary

Recently, I was conducting a Strategies for developing a leadership identity workshop. One of the participants wanted to learn strategies to remain calm when under pressure, when interacting with various stakeholders.

Here are ideas I shared with the person:

Firstly, a good acronym to remember for under pressure situations is: SODA (Stop, Observe, Decide, Act). This means when under pressure, instead of immediately Acting on the first thing that comes to mind – that you: Stop, your action/thinking. Observe, the situation and the people, what they have said, how they look etc. Decide, from the range of options you have at your disposal (There are always options). Act, on what you’ve decided. (Many of my senior executive clients profitably use SODA in their interactions).

Respond with: “I need a moment to think, I’ll be back in a minute.” Then remove yourself from the interaction and decide what action you’ll take.

Begin with the end in mind. This was a suggestion of Stephen Covey. This means to project ahead to a successful outcome. That is, assume that a successful outcome will occur.

Breathe. Particularly use, slow, stomach breathing. (To do this, place a hand on your stomach and for a slow count of 1-5 push out your stomach as you breathe in. Then for a slow 1-5 count, push in your stomach as you breath out.) This will slow down your heart rate and help you think more clearly.

Ask for help from a colleague.

De-escalate the interaction. Acknowledge the other person’s view of the situation. Get them to sit down. Explore next steps. Give multiple actions you could take that suit you and might suit them.

The ‘how to apply’ for this post: Trial one of the above techniques when under pressure to see how it works for you.

p.s. One of my clients, Commonwealth Bank, is sponsoring a Wired for Wonder event. It’s a two day experience designed to open doors of understanding in the areas of business, technology, life, awe, science and the arts.  

The event has number of great speakers including Shawn Achor.  Achor is the most engaging and witty speaker I have ever seen. Here is a link to an Achor’s TED clip where you can see him in action.


For more information about Wired for Wonder please visit: www.wiredforwonder.com

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