Communicating under pressure is a critical leadership component learned very early on during Navy SEAL training. Without having the ability to maintain composure, thinking clearly, gather information and make a call, you can't succeed in combat. Which of course can lead to the worst possible outcome.
The same applies in business leadership situations, without death and dismemberment of course. We all know what it's like to have the perfect response pop into our heads after an important situation or verbal exchange, too late to be of any use. And then there are those who can face all kinds of conflict and seem to know exactly what to do and say. And they do so in a calm and tactful manner. Faced with an angry customer, an uncooperative co-worker or tense negotiation, they don't stammer or get upset. They keep their cool and glide through the situation getting what they want without breaking a sweat. These are the people who typically rise rapidly through the ranks. But great communicators are made, not born. It's simply about having the right tools and knowledge.
Thinking on Your Feet and Communicating Effectively
Performing well under pressure builds trust within the team and makes others confident in your ability to not only lead the team, but also support the team in stressful times. Here five benefits of thinking on your feet:
- Credibility: Others will believe what you have to say. Your associates will believe in you when you earn their respect. You do that be being credible, especially under fire.
- Professionalism: Being able to think on your feet means that you can respond, in some capacity, to all questions. You don't always have to have the perfect answers, but rather ownership over finding solutions.
- Reliability: Others will find you dependable. When you are effective in critical situations others will look to you for leadership.
- Relationships: You will increase positive rapport with others.
- Confidence: Others will see you as more sure of yourself.
The more we focus on communicating well under pressure the better we will be at it. So let's take a look at how to identify snags and improve leadership communication.
Eliminating Your Communication Hang-ups
Everyone has trouble communicating ideas at some point. Awareness of your communication hang-ups and how you react in various types of conversations and communications can help you develop solutions for improvement. Here are four common hang-ups:
- Controlling Emotions: This is a big one for most people. When we lack the ability to control our emotions we appear less confident. That weakens our ability to clearly get our point across and makes others less likely to be receptive to what we are saying.
- Prejudice: When we go into a conversation without an open mind nobody will benefit. When we take time to clear our minds and tell ourselves we will put our prejudices aside we will have a better foundation from which to have more productive communication.
- Fear: There are plenty of times we fear the conversation that needs to be had. Most people don't enjoy conflict and therefore prefer to put those tough conversations off or sugarcoat what they are trying to say. Don't put off the tough conversations. Remain calm, be candid and take it one step at a time.
- Body Language: Communication is about 7% the words we say. The rest is tone and body language. Be aware of these things and control them when possible.
Communication problems begin when you don't you don't keep an open mind to what others have to say and refuse to compromise. When you don't strive to achieve a collaborative solution everybody loses. Remember to remain objective, actively listen, ask good questions, and concentrate on creating common ground.