Chill Out: Seven Steps for Remaining Calm In Stressful Situations

Career Blog

We’ve all been there: the moment before a big presentation, the seconds after the handshake on a job interview, the first customer call post a big product launch. If you’re going to shoot for success in business chances are your life will be dotted with stressful situations. So how can you keep your cool when the heat is on? For many, perspective provides the ultimate answer. When deadlines loom and the fit hits the fan follow these tips to save your sanity:

  1. Pause: My clients often describe a sense of dread and a feeling of being overwhelmed by an event because, “everything is happening so fast.” Taking a moment (and just a moment) to do nothing allows you to reset your focus and see the problem for what it is.
  2. Curse: Allowing yourself a private freak-out moment forces you to exhale and can actually release some of that built up anxiety. Plus, let’s face it. Cursing is fun and sometimes the perfect momentary antidote to stress.
  3. Consider the Magnitude of the Issue: Honestly evaluate how off the rails the project or situation is. Many times when approached with a clear head people discover the world isn’t ending and the gap they face is smaller than originally thought.
  4. Consider Worst Case: But what if the world is actually ending (still probably not)? Reviewing the worst-case scenario will give you the perspective needed to rebuild the project, the relationship, or whatever has gone wrong.
  5. Map the First Step: Thoughtful action is the best way out of a crisis. Each small step closes the gap and can help you get on track so take the first one and methodically march along, following your action plan till things get better.
  6. Communicate: Take accountability for what went wrong, share your plan and timeline for the fix with those affected, and give them constant updates.
  7. Celebrate: When things return to a steady state thank those who helped and those who were affected for their patience. Let them know what you learned and why it won’t happen again. Then take stock of the learning and pat yourself on the back. You have a great story for overcoming a stressful situation.

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Be sure to check out my latest book The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi

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