When people see a manager who is able to stay calm at work during times of stress, then you’ll likely appear to be more competent than people around you, even if it’s all an act!
I myself am fortunate that I appear calm in most situations, even when I don’t feel that way. People often tell me that I’m “always calm”. Hah!
Sometimes I remember the situation much differently. In reality, I was stressed, confused and wanted to curl up in a ball in the corner until somebody else figured the whole thing out.
The reality is, leaders who appear calm under pressure are perceived as more capable and build trust more readily.
Let’s look at some good ways that you can stay calm at work.
1. Stay Calm at Work by Remembering You Were Employed for a Reason
When you’re leading a new team, you’re going to need to figure things out. Meet the people. Find out what work your team is doing.
Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Think back to a time when you’ve been in a similar situation and how you overcame it.
Remind yourself that you would never have been chosen for this leadership role if you couldn’t handle it. You’ve shown potential and people believe in you.
If you haven’t been in a similar situation before, that’s fantastic. That means that when you get through this, next time you will have done this before and you can look back on this moment.
2. Make a Plan
One of the best things you can do to stay calm at work is to make a plan.
Sit down and brainstorm a list of things you don’t know or understand. Then for each, write down how you can find the information.
When you know what you need to do, you will know whether you’re in trouble, or you just have a lot of work to do.
If the situation really is dire, then now is the time to raise it with your own manager, as early as you can.
Putting a plan and structure around the situation makes you appear calm, confident and methodical. This gives confidence to people around you too. They will say:
“Wow, she really knows what she is doing” or “He’s in control of the situation.”
For more about the importance of planning, read this post: The Importance of Planning and Why Leaders Can’t Ignore It.
3. Stay Calm at Work by Asking Questions
Asking intelligent questions will give you the appearance of being calm and assertive. Remember, you can’t know everything yet, you’re only human. If people expect you to know everything without anybody telling you, then they are being unreasonable.
This approach should help you stay calm at work, because you can put off responding to your fears until later. I often tell myself “After I’ve asked these questions, then I can see whether there is still a problem”.
Most of the time, when you get to the end of your questions, the situation will seem a lot clearer.
4. Take a Reality Check
Sometimes when people are under pressure, they will place unrealistic expectations on you. The worst thing you can do is to accept every piece of work someone throws at you.
If it’s not able to be done in the time available, then it can’t be done. Nothing will change that.
The best way to remain calm here is to clearly understand why you don’t believe the task can be done in the time available, and to try to have a discussion about this with your boss. Back yourself.
You need to be able to push back on unreasonable demands. Sometimes, all it takes it to draw a line in the sand and say “No”, for people to start to take you seriously.
Tip: If you struggle to manage up and say “No” to unreasonable demands, Thoughtful Leader can help. Check out the Managing Upwards eBook, for tools and techniques to build confidence and help you say “No”. You and your team deserve better… try the eBook today.
5. Stay Calm at Work by Understanding That the Day Will Soon Be Over and You Can Regroup
Ok, you’re in a horrible, stressful work situation and you’re leading a team. Sometimes it’s worth remembering that in a few hours, you will be able to go home and regroup.
Remind yourself that this won’t last forever. Your boss will go home and everyone else will too, giving you time to think.
When you do get home, this is when you can disconnect and brainstorm your plan of attack for the next day. This will allow you to hit the ground running.
Now relax. Today was stressful, but tomorrow is another day, and this time you’ll be better prepared.
Remember to relax, you’re only human. Stay calm at work and watch people wonder at how great a leader you really are.
How do you stay calm at work? Leave a comment below!
Alternatively, if you would like to ask a question or need some help, you can send me a private message through my contact page.