LME019 – How to stay calm at work when under stress and pressure

How to stay calm at work

How to stay calm at work

It is often not easy to stay calm at work. Nevertheless, there are team leaders and managers that amazingly are able to do this. They radiate a sense of calm and composure, even in stressful situations.

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Do you stay calm at work?

I had my difficulties with it when I was working as a manager. But some collegues stayed calm under pressure during times when all others around them seem to lose their heads and become tangled up with their emotions.

So, I started to watch them closely and learn. Nowadays, because of that, I can stay much more calm and composed.

Does it always work? Well – no! But more and more!

What is needed to stay calm at work?

Staying calm is based on self-confidence, clear thinking and optimism. One who goes through life with confidence and optimism will most likely keep his head and stay calm in critical situations as well. Why? Because such a person has internalised a credo like:

„Nothing is as bad as it looks.“

Now, some of you might say:

„Yeah, but this person had it easy in life – no wonder he sees it like that. But for me it’s a different story.“

But that’s commonly not the case. It’s actually not true at all, that these optimistic, confident people had it always easy in life. It’s often quite the opposite.

They have made some hard experiences as well, but they’ve analysed these deep hits over time and processed them.

Analyse previous situations

If you want to become more calm and composed, you have to analyse previous situations where you couldn’t stay cool. For example, situations when you were angry or anxious: situations when you were uncertain and start to doubt yourself.

This postprocessing of previous situations can help you tremendously to become more confident, composed and to keep calm in similar situations in the future.

You decide for yourself on how to react. You will be able to stay in control, and you won’t be driven by emotions like anger or anxiety anymore, which allows you to act and react more composed.

Be self-determined and prepare

In my experience, to be self-determined and prepared for these situations and having options is crucial in order to become more calm and composed.

What else helps you to become more calm and keep a cool head?

My 5 tips on how to stay calm at work

Here are my 5 tips on how you can stay calm if your under pressure. If you feel that you’re reaching a critical point where you might slide back into your old behaviour pattern, or you feel that emotions start to boil over, do the following:

1. Breathe!

„Yeah, great. I’m breathing anyway.“

No, I mean really take a deep breath. If we experience stress or we are overwhelmed by a particular situation, our breathing usually changes: it becomes faster and more shallow. We become tense.

When this happens, just count to 10 in your head and consciously breath deeply in and long out. This will calm you down.

2. Be silent!

Take time to reflect. Keep a distance while being fully aware. Try to get to the point where you simply observe yourself.

3. Take a break!

When you feel you are just about to lose your patience or to fly off the handle and then say something that you will regret later on – take a break the moment you realize that.

During a conversation just ask for a break. Get up and leave the room – for example to use the bathroom. That’s a normal human need. Nobody can object to that, right?

4. If provoked, don’t take it personal!

It is helpful in this kind of situation to simply take it as it were not aimed at you. Of course, that is not always easy, but try to remind yourself: not he, she or something has provoked you – it is you, allowing yourself to be provoked. Just don’t let it get to you. Then you are able to stay calm.

5. Don’t take on every challenge!

Taking on every challenge is a mistake.

This is something that I used to do far too often. Of course: there are situations when you really need to stand your ground and act consistent. For example, during a meeting where your important project is being discussed and a colleague strongly argues against it.

Or, if your manager comes down unreasonably on one of your team members. That’s when you do need to step in.

But you really don’t need to switch to confrontation mode every time you’re under attack. You don’t need to take on every challenge and pick every fight. Sometimes it is already enough, not to listen, to simply ignore things and to don’t let yourself get carried away.

Understand when to stand your ground!

Learn, when to stand your ground, which fights are worth picking and which are not.

And if you decide to get involved, then do it with your full commitment. But don’t let yourself get carried away and react to everything and everyone, because then you’re not self-determined anymore, but driven.

Somebody else is flipping a switch, and you react to it. Don’t do that. Become self-determined and, therefore, confident, calm and composed.

 

I wish you the best of luck and much success in becoming more confident, calm and composed – and therefore a better leader.

The inspiring quote

You have to think of your career the way you look at the ocean, deciding which wave you’re gonna take and which waves you’re not gonna take. Some of the waves are going to be big, some are gonna be small, sometimes the sea is going to be calm. Your career is not going to be one steady march upward to glory.

Alan Arkin