The Calmness Advantage
by Janet Shlaes, Ph.D.
“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”
~ Thomas Jefferson
Have you ever found yourself in a stressful situation and said or done something that you later regretted? If your answer is yes, you’re not alone. One of the most challenging skills to develop is the ability to stay calm and centered when it seems as though everything around you is chaotic and/or falling apart. I propose that calmness under pressure is a skill worth cultivating for a variety of reasons. It brings people together and leads to win-win outcomes. Additionally, a critical incentive for learning this skill is avoiding having to deal with regret for actions or words originating from a reactive place. Staying calm under pressure provides you with the time and space to observe and evaluate a situation from a neutral perspective. You have the opportunity, even if it’s just for a few seconds, to determine the needed response to deactivate a volatile situation and get back on track for a desired and mutually satisfying outcome.
Several straightforward questions, when asked from a place of calmness, curiosity and respect, are effective in preventing a tense situation from escalating. These types of questions include: “What is this really about? What do we want build here? What are we both committed to accomplishing? Is there something we can agree on? Can we agree to disagree?” Staying calm under pressure comes with a caveat. Sometimes, your calmness will be misinterpreted as not caring or being condescending. If this occurs, you can move from questions to “I’ statements before a question. For example: “I’m committed to our understanding each other.” or “I think that we ultimately want the same thing.”
Calmness under pressure is a skill worth cultivating. It brings people together and leads to win-win outcomes. What one action step can you take today to learn this skill?
For additional insights and observations, check out the following posts:
Forcing vs. Unfolding