Coping With Pressure


PressureWhat are the main sources of pressure at work for you? And how able are you to function effectively under such pressures? What tactics work best for you? What do you need to do differently?

Everyone is affected by pressure at work. It's inescapable in today's fast paced world, combined with our drive to get as much out of our lives as we can.


This is a sure-fire recipe for too much to do and too little time to do it in. Some people are good at hiding the fact that they are under pressure but maybe they show it in less obvious ways by eating or drinking to excess. We all have our escape routes? The big question is what can we do to manage pressure more effectively. More precisely, how can we better manage OUR REACTION to pressure, because it is not pressure itself but how we handle it that is the real problem.

Check out this table and identify which are the top 3 or 4 types of pressure that give you the most bother:

Excessive work load

Tight timeframes

Lack of resources

Difficult colleagues

Tough customers

Incessant change


Tough competitors

Tough markets

Unsatisfying work

Low confidence

Health concerns


Personal finances

No one to delegate to

No one to talk to

No life of my own

Relations at home

Unhelpful boss Unclear  expectations

Are there some other pressures not listed in the table above that really get under your skin? What can you change? Focusing on those areas where change will add most value, try making a list of things you CAN do before thinking of reasons why you can't.

Do you feel powerless to change anything? No sense of control? Might it be easier to change how you react than to change your circumstances?

What steps can you take to re-build your confidence?

Time Pressure

Take time to prioritize, every day, making sure you emphasize those things that are most important to your internal customers, not just what you think is important. Negotiate with your key stakeholders to see what can be done later, stressing that you want to do the best possible job for them, thus focusing on THEIR needs, NOT the fact that you are too busy. Try spreading ownership, shifting your focus from DOING to being more of a catalyst or facilitator. Get others involved.

Dealing with Difficult People

The key is to avoid being confrontational or aggressively demanding. Better to start by offering to help them. Ask questions like: "How can we find a mutually satisfactory solution?" The point is to enlist the other person in devising a solution instead of trying to sell your own solution. Ask: "How can I help you meet your needs in a way that meets mine too?" Again, position the issue as a shared one instead of either yours or the other person's. Also, try asking: "How would you feel if you were in my shoes?" Here, you are trying to get the other person to stop seeing the issue only from his or her own perspective. When all else fails, state your case calmly and firmly. Never helps to blow your top.

Facing Challenging Changes

If you can't change the situation or your place in it, ask yourself two questions: "What are the positives I can find in this situation?" and "Where are the opportunities for me in this new world?" Complaining doesn't help, it just annoys people and makes you feel worse. You disempower yourself by making yourself feel like a victim. It's always better to ask yourself what you can do differently or how you can change how you look at an issue.

Taking Excessive Ownership

Managers feel an enormous weight of responsibility but if they take too much ownership they disempower their teams. Not one bothers because they feel the manager will take care of everything. Try to foster greater shared ownership to take some of the pressure off. One way to do this is to involve team members in making decisions. The best question to ask is: What do you think? of which there are a million variations.


Some people take on more than they should or simply feel more pressure because they lack confidence. This often translates as trying too hard, something often seen in sports when players move to a new team. It can take them until the following year to feel comfortable enough to play at their normal level without trying too hard.