3. Staying cool under pressure

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Have you even been so frustrated that you yelled at your parents? Guilty! Well, that sort of behaviour simply doesn’t fly in a workplace when dealing with colleagues or customers. 

If you’re feeling the pressure or deadlines are looming you can’t yell at your boss or fly off the rails at your coworkers. If you do, well bye, bye career. Instead you have to be consciously self aware of your emotions and stress level and manage how you communicate. 

If you can negotiate deals under pressure and deal with angry customers or difficult coworkers while staying cool, you have the skills to be a true leader. Great communicators are made, not born, so here are tips to keep calm and carry on.

STEP 1: Think about your words 

  • Be specific: define the problem or feeling clearly as other people are not mind readers
  • Focus on the task: Don’t bring up old issues or make empty threats.
  • Less is more: if you’re feeling emotional or tired, say less rather than saying the wrong thing. You could easily exaggerate, aggravate or escalate the situation.
  • Be tactful: don’t be overly critical or try to place the blame. Avoid sarcasm.

STEP 2: Be ready to listen

  • Empathy matters: try and understand the other person’s perspective
  • Don’t interrupt: sometimes people just want to be heard, so listen with nonverbal gestures.
  • Accept criticism: the other person might be feeling emotional and not be in control of their strong feelings as they fling criticism. Filter what they say to take out the emotion and find the facts.
  • Don’t give advice: yes, just listen even if the other person is wrong and find a better time to feed back advice.

STEP 3: Take time to respond

  • Gather the facts: ask questions to clarify anything, check the facts before you respond.
  • Make sure you understand them: did you understand why they feel a certain way? Say so. You don’t need to agree to understand their side.
  • Put a mirror on yourself: do you have a negative attitude? What’s your tone? Are you being snappy? Think about your behaviour.

Good communication is about everyone being given time to express their thoughts while also listening and trying to understand each others’ needs and perspective with empathy.

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