Can you perform under pressure?
A candidate at a job interview was asked, “Can you perform under pressure?”
“No. But I do a pretty mean version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody,” came back the reply. The interviewer was pretty much left dumbfounded. Were you?
But seriously, putting the joke to one side how well do you perform under pressure?
When we start to “lose it” under pressure, it’s because our fight-or-flight mechanism is being triggered.
This is the impulse our pre-human ancestors developed over millennia of evolution in order to kick their brains and bodies into gear when threatened by a bear, lion or other huge predator.
Today, this mechanism is triggered when the boss says she has some words for you or you have an important meeting with an unhappy client. Although it’s a natural reaction, the right way to respond in a business setting isn’t to run and hide as it would be if you were staring down a woolly mammoth.
Instead, you need to calm yourself down and deal with the situation rationally.
Here are a few more ways to use emotional intelligence to stay cool under pressure:
Name or Label Emotions
You know your major emotional triggers. Give each one a name or label. This helps you to acknowledge it when it arises. Once you can identify that this strong emotion is stalking you, tell it to step aside while you deal with the situation at hand.
Relax Your Body
Use techniques like deep breathing help to relax the body first, and then the mind follows. Strive to identify physical positions and other body language that you consider relaxed. When you feel the pressure hit you, shift your body into a relaxed position.
Treat Yourself Well
If you find it hard to cope with your stresses, it may not be the situation at hand or any lack of emotional intelligence. It may just be that you’re not taking care of yourself. If you get plenty of sleep, eat reasonably well and avoid too much alcohol or caffeine, you’re much better able to handle stressful situations. Throw a little exercise into your routine and you’ll handle stress even better.
Take the Burden off Yourself
If you work to improve your emotional intelligence you’re better able to empathise and this is a skill you can use in stressful situations. When stress hits you, put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Take the focus off yourself. For example, if a person is angry, try as much as possible to see things from the person’s situation. Then, look for a solution. Leave yourself out of it and focus on solving the problem.
Improving your emotional intelligence doesn’t mean you’ll get rid of stress and other problems immediately. But, along with the actions above if you add some regular activities to your schedule you’ll reduce stress when you’re away from work as well.
Get in touch if you want to find out more about emotional intelligence and how it can help you take your performance to the next level.
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I’m passionate about inspiring people to tap into their unique talents and strengths – to be the best they can be – to fulfill the potential they always knew they had. It’s not about ‘fixing’ you. Rather, it’s about helping you access the best part of yourself so you’re able to make the changes, release the dragons and powerfully step into your brilliance.
If you are interested in performance coaching, try my free 20-minute introductory session. Just contact me and I’ll arrange a time and date for us to chat by phone or face-to-face.
Get in touch TODAY by email or call my office on +44 (0)20 8798 3433.
Mark Russell Inspired Performance Coaching – Dedicated to Your Success.