The way we behave at the office can make or break our careers.
But, we can’t always perform well under pressure. Sometimes the temptation to scream and shout at colleagues — or anyone for that matter — is powerful. Staying calm, knowing when to raise your voice and when to walk away, are a delicate balance. It’s a topic several LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on this week.
Here’s what two of them had to say.
Morag Barrett, chief executive officer and founder at SkyeTeam
“I'd like to think that throughout the course of a thirty- or forty-year career we all have a few “chits” we can cash in should we find ourselves raising our voices,” wrote Barrett in her post Is it Ever OK to Yell at Work? “The key is figuring out when and if it's the time is right to use one.”
So, when is yelling acceptable? Barrett boiled it down to certain situations:
“When it's a life and death situation - a warning of impending disaster; When the environment is noisy and you might not otherwise be heard; When yelling is actually positive and cheering someone on (think of fans at a sports stadium); When it's directed inwards at ourselves (why did I say that? how could I let that happen?) allowing us to get our frustrations off our chests so that we can focus productively on the next steps. (The key is that this yelling is done in private…not directed at others and outwards.),” she wrote.
And when is yelling a no-no?
“When it is personal, hostile, attacking others and designed to intimidate or shut down; When it is the default reaction to situations - the hammer to crack the nut; When it is done without the self-awareness to understand the personal and professional impact it has on ourselves and others; In practically every situation (I hesitate to say 'never'),” she wrote.
But yelling can be damaging to a team and to the person who is doing the shouting. So, when do you know when to cash in those chips? “Emotional Intelligence is fundamental to choosing the appropriate response,” she wrote. That requires:
Self-awareness: to recognise our triggers and when our tempers might be raised.
Self-management: to allow us to moderate our default response, to choose how we respond.
Empathy: to enable us to adjust our approach to match and meet the needs of the other person. To say our piece, and then listen and heartheir point of view.
Relationship Management: to ensure we are focusing on the long-term impact on our relationship, not simply the short-term impact of getting ourselves heard.”
The bottom line, wrote Barrett: “Yelling or passionately advocating your point of view? It's your choice. But be sure you understand and accommodate the needs of your audience before raising your voice.”
Bernard Marr, chief executive at Advanced Performance Institute
“What’s the difference between you and [golfer] Rory McIlroy on the green? Well, apart from about a 50 stroke handicap, the main thing that sets apart people like professional athletes from the rest of us is the ability to perform under pressure,” wrote Marr in his post How to Perform Under Pressure. “So how can we cultivate the same sort of mind-set and skills as a professional athlete on the course?”
A lot of this has to do with how we view a situation, he wrote. “According to sports psychologists, the way we face a stressful situation mostly comes down to how we instinctively react in those first few moments. Do we assess the situation as a challenge to be met, or a threat to be feared,” Marr wrote.
There are some strategies that can improve your chances of performing well under pressure, even if you aren’t hard-wired to tackle it like an athlete. Among them:
“Prepare. Then prepare some more. A lot of the “stage fright” type fear that arises when we are forced to perform comes from worry that we aren’t prepared — that we’ll forget our lines, sound like an idiot, our technology won’t work or we’ll fall off the stage,” Marr wrote. “The best way to address this fear is to practice. Practice a presentation forwards and backwards (literally). Test out all the tech beforehand. Walk the stage. Whatever you can do to feel as prepared as possible.”
“Use positive self-talk. If your mind is playing a constant litany of negative thoughts — ‘I’m going to fail. They’re all going to laugh at me. I’ll never live this down,’ — it will just increase your stress levels,” Marr wrote. “Instead, give yourself one to three positive mantras like ‘breathe,’ ‘stay focused’ and ‘be your best,’ to give yourself something positive to focus on.”
By using some of these techniques, Marr wrote, “even those who aren’t normally comfortable in high-pressure situations can relax and seem a little more adept and at ease.”
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