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How to Keep Cool under Pressure
When faced with problems at work - or at home - it’s easy to fly off the handle, let rage overtake you, play the blame game or freeze up with fear. However, to take the action needed to remedy the challenge, none of these reactions will help you.
Instead, control your response by mindfully shifting degrees and intensity of emotion. Here’s what you should do when pressure overwhelms you:
1. First, Breathe. It may sound oversimplified, but pausing to take a mindful few breaths is all the time you need to stave off an abusive knee-jerk reaction that would otherwise hurt the people around you.
2. Stand Up. If you’re sitting down and feeling pressured, then stand up. It will provide an instant shift in energy and blood flow, which helps when trying to look at a problem from a new angle.
3. Find Your Coping Strategy. When alerted to a problem that seems overwhelming, it’s important to take a moment to rationalize the situation before you react. Take a walk. Clear your head. Go outside. Neuroscience tells us that short exposure to full-spectrum light can significantly elevate a negative mood.
4. Stay Positive. The only way to find a solution to a problem is to avoid dwelling on the negative. Shifting to a positive outlook will get you started on finding the solution.
5. Find a Vent Buddy. Find someone who you can go to privately, close the door and just vent to without fear that person will judge you or tattle on you. A reliable buddy that listens and empathizes is invaluable.
6. Remember the Golden Rule: Don’t Abuse Others. It’s all too easy to react to a problem by cursing, blaming and name-calling. We’ve all said this at one time or another, “#$@%! How could you let this happen? You idiot!” But abusing another person will only alienate him or her, and it’s likely you’ll need that person’s help to solve the problem.
– Gregg Ward
About the Author: Gregg Ward is the author of The Respectful Leader: Seven Ways to Influence without Intimidation and Bad Behavior, People Problems and Sticky Situations. He’s also the CEO of San Diego, CA-based The Gregg Ward Group, a Fortune 500 consulting firm. A certified management consultant and adjunct professor for San Diego State and Cal State, he trained the U.S. Navy on issues of conflict resolution, emotional intelligence and teamwork.
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