Pressure Solution #19 – Speed Kills

When we are in a high-pressure situation, we typically speed up our thinking, causing us to jump to erroneous conclusions, fail to consider relevant data or alternative viewpoints, and respond without readiness. In effect, a speedy response often kills our chance for success. Studies show that when dealing with tasks that require working memory, you will get smarter results if you practice this pressure solution:


Doing so helps ensure that your working memory isn’t overly taxed by stress and worry, factors that typically downgrade your comprehension, judgment, and decision-making and thus lead to ineffective responses that are often disastrous.

Develop “slowdowns,” responses that give yourself more time, be it a minute or day, so that your cognitive operations have the best chance to succeed. If you’re taking an important exam, instead of frantically rushing into solving the problem or writing the essay, slow yourself down. Give yourself two minutes to think it over and make an outline.

If a travel agent presses you to lock up your vacation with a deposit, tell the agent, “I want to sleep on it.”

When a big decision needs to be made around priorities at work, ask yourself if it absolutely has to be made at that moment. Many times it does not, yet we act as if it does. Sometimes it does. But many times it does not. We know that pressure can distort our thinking, and make us believe a matter is more urgent than it is. In these cases, you may want to invoke the “twenty-four-hour rule”: Choose to not make a decision in that moment and, instead, come back to it the next day, after everyone has had a chance to think it over and see it in a new light.

When you slow down your response in working memory pressure moments, you reduce your arousal, which in turn allows you to think more flexibly, creatively, and attentively, all forces that help overcome pressure. Slowing down your response in a high-pressure moment gets you smarter results.


This is an excerpt from Performing Under Pressure.



JP Pawliw-Fry is co-author of the New York Times bestselling book, Performing Under Pressure. He is keynote speaker, and the founder of IHHP, a global research and learning company that specializes in helping organizations and leaders leverage the science of emotional intelligence and performing under pressure.  The research and strategies presented in the book, keynotes and in IHHP’s training programs have been leveraged by numerous Fortune 100 companies, including long-term relationships with Johnson and Johnson, PWC, Goldman Sachs, HSBC as well as Olympic medal winning athletes. (Co-author: Hendrie Weisinger.) 


3d.pressure book cover-GTWABOUT THE BOOK

Co-authored by our own J.P. Pawliw-Fry, Performing Under Pressure will introduce you to the concept of pressure management, offering the latest science on how your brain responds under pressure, and many empirically tested strategies to help you overcome the sabotaging effects of pressure. For this book, we undertook a multiyear study of over twelve thousand people to answer the question: what is it about the top 10 percent of these individuals that helps them handle pressure more effectively and be successful? The book has been featured in featured in Forbes, INC., The Financial Times, Training Magazine and many more, and is a NYT and Amazon bestseller. Order your copy on AmazonBarnes and NobleAudible or Apple ibooks.


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