6 Tips to Work Effectively Under Pressure

Some industries naturally lead to higher stress levels, but high-pressure situations can happen in any job. Left unchecked, that pressure can start to eat away at your physical and mental health, leaving you feeling stressed and physically unwell. Figuring out how to handle pressure without sacrificing your performance takes practice and a few key strategies.

Here are some tips to get better at handling and performing well under pressure in the workplace:

1. Reframe the Situation

High-pressure situations tend to make everything seem worse. Instead of looking at that upcoming deadline as another task to complete, you see it as a make-or-break situation that could end your career. Sure, some situations do carry a lot of weight, but most of the daily things that stress you out at work aren’t do-or-die situations.

Try to take away the threatening aspect of the situation, and look at it as an opportunity to put your skills to work or a challenge to conquer. If you’re worried or afraid of the situation, you’re less likely to perform your best. That negative pressure can sap your energy and make the task more challenging. Change the way you think about it, and you’re better prepared to tackle it.

2. Look at Worst-Case Scenarios

When you’re under a lot of pressure, you often have a sense of doom about the outcome. But if you really stop to think about the worst-case scenario, you may realize it’s not that bad. Say you’re in charge of organizing a big meeting at your office, but you forget to book the conference room and someone else books it first. You beat yourself up over it and let the stress become overwhelming, but the worst thing that might happen is you have to get creative and find a new location. It could turn out better, too, with the other person agreeing to reschedule their event so you can have the conference room as originally planned.

Thinking about worst-case scenarios can also help you prepare for the unexpected. If you have a big presentation coming up, some potential problems could be forgetting what you’re supposed to say, losing your PowerPoint presentation, or spilling your coffee on your lap beforehand. Now, think of ways you can be prepared for those situations in case they do happen. Maybe you practice your presentation a little more and come prepared with note cards as a backup. You might save your PowerPoint presentation in multiple places to ensure you have a copy. Perhaps you choose water instead of coffee, sip carefully or pack an extra set of clothes. Use your worry to empower yourself and prepare for the worst thing that could happen.

3. Make a Plan

It’s easy to waste your time worrying or feeling overwhelmed by the situation. Instead of thinking about how it might turn out, focus on creating an action plan. Break down what you need to do to accomplish the task. Then, figure out how you’re going to complete each step to get there. Prioritizing the tasks helps you decide what needs the most attention. Focus on starting and checking off items on your to-do list. Making that progress can give you confidence and make it easier to keep going. Keep your mind on the things you can control rather than worrying about the factors that are out of your control.

4. Use Stress-Relief Strategies

Strategies that help calm you and ease the stress can make it easier to handle high-pressure work situations. Even though you feel like you need to devote all your time to the project, taking a break to exercise, meditate or breathe deeply can help lower your stress and let you work more efficiently. Listening to music can have a powerful effect on your mood and outlook. Find a type of music that calms you if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Some songs have a motivating effect, making you feel like you can conquer anything. Think about what type of attitude change you need, and find the music to help you achieve it.

5. Step Back

When you’re feeling too much pressure, take a step back and slow down. That little step can give you the clarity you need to figure out the best approach to the situation. If you rush into the project to get it done quickly, you may end up making a mistake or missing an easier solution to the situation. By taking a step back, you can formulate a strong plan to get through this high-pressure situation. That moment can also help you realize the situation isn’t as challenging as you think.

6. Reach Out for Help

Some high-pressure situations call for a little help. Talk with someone about the pressure you’re feeling, and it may be enough to improve your outlook. Someone who has been in a similar situation may have advice to help you through it. If possible, consider delegating some of your tasks to other team members so you aren’t so overwhelmed. For example, you might ask a colleague to pull numbers for you while you’re compiling your presentation for an upcoming stakeholder meeting. Even a little help can make a big difference in your outlook.

Final Words

Be careful not to confuse pressure with stress  – they are quite different. Pressure can be a very positive quality. Experiencing it, yet feeling calm and in control, can spur people on to achieve great things. It’s only when it keeps building and that sense of calm and order is replaced by a feeling of being out of control that stress happens, and has a wholly negative effect. Remember pressure at work will always be present, it is how you manage these that truly counts.


4 Ways Leaders Can Build Empathy in the Workplace (and Why It Matters)

Many organizations are now looking beyond traditional strategies to manage their employees and are now focusing only on qualities that build authentic leadership. One of the skills in great demand for truly authentic leaders is empathy

What does empathy mean?

Empathy is the ability to understand and be sensitive to another person’s feelings, thoughts and actions.

Essentially, it means being able to put oneself in the other’s shoes and imagine how they must be feeling in certain situations and why they act the way they do.

What is an empathetic leader?

An empathetic leader is one who has a genuine interest in his/her team members’ lives, the challenges they face, and their overall feelings.

This kind of leader makes an effort to understand their situations and what they are going through, in order to offer support and help. Empathy is a key element of servant leadership as well although not all empathetic leaders practice servant leadership.

Overall, an empathetic leader interacts with others in a way that leaves them feeling safe and cared for, and as though they have a connection based on trust.

Defining Empathy in the Workplace

Empathy means having the ability to relate to other’s thoughts, emotions and experiences. When we have empathy, we react more compassionately and have a deeper understanding of how someone feels.

Empathy is a powerful tool in any relationship — not just work. By temporarily taking up residence in somebody else’s perspective, you’ll find it easier to solve conflicts and create solutions that work for everyone involved.

In the workplace, establishing empathic relationships with colleagues can improve performance and satisfaction, and eliminate the risk of conflicts for more efficient decision making. These empathic connections usually have four qualities:

  • Both parties openly communicate about workplace problems and concerns.
  • Neither party is interested in conflict, judgment and criticism.
  • Both parties respect the other’s point of view.
  • The focus shifts to a win-win strategy, removing tension and conflict.

How Empathy Fuels Productivity

Recent polls show more than half of employees state they would consider leaving their job if company leaders didn’t show empathy to staff needs.

Although an important factor, the benefits of empathy extend far beyond employee satisfaction to all corners of a business — including its bottom line.

It decreases conflict

When there’s a common understanding of emotions and motivations, the risk of conflict decreases significantly.

In a conflict situation, it can be tempting to look for someone to blame. However, pointing fingers can escalate situations, leading to bad feelings and a notion of victimhood. By making someone the perpetrator rather than working towards mutual understanding, you waste time and energy — the definition of unproductive.

When leaders focus on embedding a culture of empathy, collaboration increases, driving productivity and making solutions easier to find.

It makes giving and receiving feedback easier

Giving and receiving feedback at work is an important element of productivity, as it gives us the opportunity to improve. Empathy allows leaders to gain an overall understanding of why certain areas aren’t up to scratch. Taking a compassionate and empathic approach to feedback gives employees the space to be open about their downfalls.

For example, by asking “How are things going for you?” employees have the chance to open up on areas they’re struggling with, which could be hindering their productivity. Leaders can then work on finding a way to overcome these barriers to productivity, promoting an environment where self-improvement is central.

It reduces work-related stress

Fostering empathy in the workplace can help create a more collaborative environment and strengthen work relationships, which works to reduce stress levels. In fact, research has shown that managers with good relationships with their employees, who in turn understood their managers’ challenges, experienced significantly less stress.

Employees are also less likely to experience burnout in an empathic organization. Through a lens of empathy, managers can check in with employees regularly, giving employees the chance to talk. Instead of instilling fear and stress in employees, empathic leaders can pivot and adapt their policies to focus on wellbeing.

How to Improve Empathy at Work

Here are four simple steps you can take to ensure your company is cultivating empathy:

1. Actively Listen

In a busy work environment, it can be easy to passively listen while your mind is on something else. However, this isn’t productive. Try to put your deadlines, tasks and problems aside to concentrate on what the other person is really saying. Look out for non-verbal cues as well.

By putting yourself in their position, you can imagine how they’re feeling and are better equipped to find a solution.

2.Recognize your bias

Your unconscious bias could be making you react in a certain way, impacting your decision making. Although it’s difficult to unlearn, it’s easier to keep your bias in check when you’re aware that it exists.

This awareness prevents you from dismissing someone’s feelings simply because of a preconceived notion of how you think they act, leading to a more empathic environment.

3.Work with your team

By better understanding your team’s workload and the frustrations they feel, you can empathize with their needs and worries. It’s also a lot easier to spot the signs of burnout when you work alongside your workforce, which helps prevent disengagement.

When remote working, you can do this by checking in regularly to see how people are feeling regarding their workload and simply asking how their day is going.

4.Avoid making assumptions

Giving employees the benefit of the doubt before passing judgment on their performance can be a powerful way to demonstrate empathy.

Jumping to conclusions is the exact opposite of empathy, as there’s no patience or understanding involved in making bold assumptions. Through open dialogue, on the other hand, you can get to the root of the issue and solve it faster.

How can effective incorporation of empathy in the workplace improve company culture?

Empathy makes it possible for understanding, acceptance, and appreciation of each employee in the workplace. It’s a key component of functional, positive relationships. The more that leaders and employees practice this skill in the workplace, the more cohesive, diverse, and harmonious the company culture can become.

We offer webinars, workshops, and seminars for organizations on mental health in the work place. Click the button below to find out how we can help your company.