Performing Under Pressure

Everyone is impacted by working under pressure differently. It is essential to self-analyze how you react under pressure and to work on it.

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As Drs. Hendrie Weisinger and J.P. Pawliw-Fry say in their book “Performing Under Pressure”,  regardless of the task; pressure ruthlessly diminishes our judgment, decision-making, attention, skill, and performance in every professional and personal area.

Here are some tips that can help you to manage the pressure:

Take control

As with everything in life, there are factors you can control and factors you can’t. To avoid intensifying the weight, you should focus on the factors you can control, and not on those out of your control.

Slow down

A natural reaction to a high-pressure situation is to speed up your thinking. Nevertheless, it’s better to control this emotion and avoid doing it because you don’t think as clearly as usual. It is the same effect as driving too fast; your visual field is reduced. This makes you jump to conclusions missing vital information. You have to slow down, take a deep breathe and plan.

This will prepare you to be more flexible and creative, and the results will be better. “Stress balls” are an office cliché but there is a good reason for that: They work. You have to avoid the unhelpful thought loop running through your head. “How am I doing?” you keep wondering, even though you’re doing fine — or you would be if you could focus on the task.

At that moment, the stress ball helps. When you squeeze a ball with your left hand, you’re able to activate the parts of your brain that control unconscious responses, while simultaneously suppressing the elements of your brain that oversees self-conscious thinking.

Share the pressure

Talking to someone else about the pressure you feel has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress. But there’s another bonus: Sharing your feelings allows you to evaluate them. It’s likely that the person you’re sharing your concerns with will have advice. If you’re working in a team, it is very likely that everyone has the same feeling – talking about it helps the entire team. Also, you might be able to delegate to your team, creating more commitment and sharing the pressure. 

Keep in mind that most of our work is in a team – it is essential to keep your team’s feelings in mind: Empathize with them, understand that as human beings we all react differently. Our emotions are different and we have to synchronize among ourselves, share the pressure and work together to accomplish the objectives.

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