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How to Maintain Your Composure in Times of Stress and Difficulty

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

In the dynamic, high-pressure professional world today, maintaining composure during stressful situations is a critical skill. This ability is particularly important for those aspiring to have an executive presence. However, maintaining composure on the spot, especially when emotions are running high, can be challenging. In this article, I will delve into the importance of composure, the challenges in maintaining it, and provide three practical ways to regain composure when you are in the spotlight.

Composure, defined as the state of being calm and in control of oneself, is a trait admired in leaders across industries. It is a sign of emotional intelligence and maturity, indicating an individual's ability to handle pressure and make rational decisions amidst chaos.

However, achieving this state of calm is not always easy. Stressful situations can trigger a flurry of emotions, clouding our judgment and causing us to react impulsively. This is where the importance of understanding and implementing strategies to maintain composure comes into play.

Shift Your Focus to The Goal At Hand

One of the first steps to maintaining composure is to shift your focus to the goal at hand. When we are faced with a stressful situation, our mind often goes into overdrive. Anxiety, an emotional response to perceived threats, kicks in, causing us to imagine worst-case scenarios, potential criticisms, and unwanted outcomes. This anxiety-induced content in our mind fuels our stress, not the situation itself.

By shifting your focus to the desired goal, you can stay present and concentrate on the real objectives instead of the emotionally interpreted ones. This shift allows you to engage the cognitive aspect of your brain, reducing the influence of the emotional aspect. For instance, if you are presenting a project update to a room full of executives, your anxiety might make you worry about their judgment, potential criticisms, and the implications of a poorly received presentation. However, if you shift your focus to the goal at hand - effectively communicating the project's progress and next steps - you can redirect your energy towards preparing a comprehensive update and anticipating possible questions. This shift in focus can help you stay calm and composed during the presentation.

Engage Your Cognition

Our brain is divided into two parts: the emotional brain (amygdala) and the rational brain (prefrontal cortex). When we're stressed, the emotional brain takes over, leading to impulsive and often regrettable actions.This emotional hijacking can disrupt your ability to maintain composure and self-control. However, the executive center of your brain, the rational center, can counteract this. When we engage our cognition, we activate our rational brain, allowing us to make thoughtful decisions rather than impulsive ones.

Being able to stop impulsive actions is critical as it allows you to think things through and act in accordance with your values and mission. This engagement can be achieved through a pattern interrupt, an action that requires your cognitive attention and disrupts the emotional spiral. This can be done through various techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and cognitive reframing. These techniques help calm the emotional brain and activate the rational brain, allowing us to stay composed and make better decisions.

Offer Your Service

One of the main reasons we feel stressed is because we're usually too focused on ourselves. We worry about how we're perceived, whether we'll succeed or fail, and how these outcomes will affect us. By shifting our focus from ourselves to others, we can alleviate some of this stress. When we focus on how we can serve others, our perspective shifts. We're no longer consumed by our fears and insecurities; instead, we're motivated by our desire to help and make a difference. This shift in focus can significantly reduce stress and improve our performance.

When you are presenting or speaking to individuals, you are there to serve others. If you can shift your focus from yourself to how you can serve one person in your audience, your nervousness can subside. This shift is because the primary cause of public speaking anxiety and stage fright is the focus on self and the concern about reception and criticism.

In a presentation scenario, instead of worrying about how you are perceived, focus on how your information can benefit your audience. When you alleviate your anxiety, this will allow you to deliver your presentation with more confidence and poise.

Maintaining composure in times of stress and difficulty is a skill that can be developed. By shifting your focus to the goal at hand, engaging your cognition, and offering your service, you can navigate stressful situations with grace and poise.

Remember, knowledge is not power; applied knowledge is power. So, apply these principles the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation and observe the change. You are capable of more than you think, and with these tools, you can handle any situation with composure and confidence.

Moving from knowledge gathering to knowledge application is the next step in the reading process. To learn how to put these principles into practice, join me in my executive coaching program where I'll show you how to develop your career and self.

This is a results-oriented program for growth-oriented executives who want to improve their skills to fulfill their career goals. The program emphasizes mastering your mind, developing deeper insights, improving your communication skills, and inspiring your career development.

Interested in working with me to achieve your career goals? Apply HERE.

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© Mastery Insights Inc. All Rights Reserved