Staying calm under pressure: 4 tips

We all know that sickening feeling when we realize we've made a mistake. Unfortunately, mistakes and the pressure associated with fixing them are inevitable, but luckily, there are strategies to get through them gracefully and effectively. The trick is to stay calm.

However, according to Entrepreneur, research from Harvard Business School shows most people go about staying calm the wrong way. People who view crises as exciting challenges perform far better than those who attempt to force themselves to stay calm.

"People have a very strong intuition that trying to calm down is the best way to cope with their anxiety, but that can be very difficult and ineffective," said study author Allison Wood Brooks, PhD, according to the report. "When people feel anxious and try to calm down, they are thinking about all the things that could go badly. When they are excited, they are thinking about how things could go well."

With the right mentality, it is possible to channel your emotions and produce the behavior that will allow you to successfully manage a crisis — calm is the effect, not the strategy. Here are four tips for staying calm and handling crisis effectively, according to Entrepreneur.

1. Use logic. While a big mistake is embarrassing and will likely incur some sort of repercussion, in reality, it is probably not catastrophic in consequence. Therefore, it is important to put things into perspective.

According to Entrepreneur, there are two questions to help guide this process: "What's the worst thing that could happen as a result of this?" "Will this matter in five years?" After answering those questions, you'll likely realize your panic is mostly due to the anticipation of public embarrassment over any other consequence. Once you can move past that, you can rebuild confidence and start damage control.

2. Realize you are not the main concern. The more worried and anxious you feel about your mistake, the less helpful you will be to actually solving the problem. If you take an active role devising a solution instead of feeling paralyzed by the problem, by the time the dust has settled, you'll have proved to others you can handle the situation.

3. Magnify your logic. Once you've effectively put your worry aside and channeled your logic, ask some additional questions, according to the report: "What exactly happened? What are the possible repercussions? Is there still time to avoid those repercussions? If so, how? Who needs to be involved? If it's too late to head off the repercussions, what can be done to mitigate the damage?" These questions enable you to think proactively and effectively, and help identify who needs to be recruited to help solve the issue.

4. Keep your chin up. No one is perfect. According to the report, Henry Ford's first car company failed after 18 months, Oprah Winfrey was deemed "unfit for television" early in her career and Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star for lacking creativity. Giving up doesn't make you a better worker; rather, honing your problem solving skills and demonstrating the ability to stay calm under pressure does.

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