Staying cool, calm and collected under pressure at work is often in the top 3 spoken and unspoken desirable requirements for any position. This is particularly true if you are client facing and your role is really a defining part of the brand and professional services experience for clients.
Being poised means not going into survival mode when you feel you are under pressure, feel threatened, or stressed out. In the workplace this might look like deadlines, a confrontation, or managing projects.
Not only do your task orientated skills suffer when you are not composed, but you might notice other qualities such as emotional intelligence, reactivity, communication skills, and the ability to feel social and compassionate with others, are harder and harder to find.
Managing up, managing down, dealing with general public and clients can include a range of personalities who may or may not have a “functional” level of self-awareness and emotional intelligence.. Keeping your cool and remaining confident in spite of pressures will ensure that you have the capacity to influence and communicate effectively with challenging people or when under pressure.
Is your past stress having another hoorah?
Often it is past pressure that can affect current emotional balance. If you have been involved in a previous workplace incident that you perceived was stressful or even traumatic such as bullying, harassment, redundancy, a relationship break-down or an unexpected change, there is often a residue left that consciously or unconsciously influences your perceptions in the present. To tone down your reactivity in the now, it’s really important to understand why this situation throws you off centre.
Even unrelated past personal stresses can influence poise in the workplace, such as the manager that reminds you of your Mum or the passive aggressive colleague who is the doppelganger of your ex. Unfortunately, there aren’t separate “composure” reserves for each area of your life. They all come together to influence your capacity to stay cool and calm under pressure at work! So, using these tips below will help to keep you within a graceful and professional range when responding to pressure.
Two powerful tips for staying calm
To help with clarity when you lose your equilibrium in a situation, ask yourself
1. “how do I feel right now?”; followed by
2. “what is this prompting me to tell myself?”. For example, “I feel unappreciated and the meaning I make of this, is that I am worthless”.
Often the clarity can assist in toning down the survival response as you can observe your reaction and take steps to correct your distorted perception of yourself. It may stop you from becoming emotionally immersed in the drama that your survival emotions can create.
This clarity also sets you up to begin to challenge yourself: are your thoughts about yourself true? This brings you to your second powerful poise tool of analysing the unhelpful and unhealthy thoughts you believe tell yourself stress.
By observing your associated thoughts, rather than being gullible to believing all your thoughts all the time, you can begin to lengthen out time between your stress trigger and your calm response as you don’t automatically go to reflexive survival reactions.
If you have been observing yourself out of balance of late at work, it might be time to invest more in this important asset.