It’s pretty difficult to live our lives without having to deal with high-pressure situations. Perhaps it’s a critical interview, an important presentation, or a key sales call. You showed up with a lot on your mind – usually too much on your mind. You tried chanting to yourself, “calm down; just be yourself!” Unfortunately, the more you demanded yourself to calm down, the harder it was to be yourself.
When is it the easiest to “just be you?” The answer is probably when you’re with your friends. Just think about how easy it is to be with your true friends, those who really know you. When you’re with your friends, my guess is:
- You don’t dread the meeting; you look forward to it.
- You don’t overthink the meeting, or memorize a lot of information beforehand.
- You don’t write out a ton of questions, and you naturally listen to the answers to your questions. You trust the relationship and you have confidence that you’ll always have plenty to talk about.
Everything is so easy and natural when we’re with our friends. If only it were that easy when we’re under pressure. Well, maybe it is. For just a moment, suspend your disbelief and imagine you are going into your next, high-pressure situation as if you are going to spend some time with your friends. What would be the harm in approaching the situation in this way:
- Looking forward to the pressure meeting you are about to attend.
- Focusing on a few basic things to cover, and with a calm mind, moving easily to the goals you have established.
- Thinking out some basic questions to ask early, and trusting your instincts to naturally take you deeper into the conversation.
I suppose there must be a downside to being in a more relaxed state of mind… and letting ourselves operate in our most natural state. Unfortunately, I just can’t come up with any. Talk to any professional speaker or accomplished salesperson, and they’ll tell you that their many years of practice and success has allowed them to feel little pressure as they go into an important meeting or event. Because they’re mentally in a familiar place, they can allow themselves to relax and be natural. I guess we could wait years until repetition and success allows us to find that familiar ground, but that’s just too heavy a price to pay.
I’m all for pre-call planning, and careful preparation, but far too often – when we are under pressure – we over prepare. The results are a perceived lack of authenticity, and an inability to show the side of ourselves we desperately want to show others. Next time you’re heading into that pressured situation, try to imagine that you’re going to be seeing some of your good friends. I think that may allow you to relax enough to let the authentic side of you come out. Wouldn’t it be nice to show that side of us in these high-pressure situations?