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Pressure Shortens the Fuse

Posted 6 years ago

Pressure is par-for-the-course in many jobs. It can stem from many places: performance, deadlines and interpersonal relationships. Regardless of it’s source, the way we respond to pressure will often play a far greater role in our outcome than anything else. When we manage our response to pressure in a positive way, we improve workplace outcomes for ourselves, our colleagues, our clients and most importantly– our direct reports. Which is why today’s story on Platinum Rules for Success is so important. Leadership expert and author, Tammy Holyfield shares her five steps to a peaceful work environment…

Pressure Shortens the Fuse

by Tammy Holyfield

Increased pressure and challenge can cause us to react adversely. When people are drained emotionally it causes them to lash out. Often this rage is caused by hurt, fear or frustration. Hurt is most often produced by vague expectations or jealousy–which leads to anger, resentment and revenge. Workplace anger is costly in time, mistakes, stress, morale, performance and customer service, not to mention the physical consequences of the angry person. The ability to address and defuse conflict is essential to effectiveness, productivity and profit. Studies reveal a staggering 25 percent of employee time is spent engaging in–or trying to resolve–conflict. When emotions are high, intellect is low.
Common Responses to Conflict
People respond to conflict in three ways: Explosion, implosion or resolution. The preferred response is resolution. The ability to work together in harmony and to resolve inevitable conflicts are indispensable skills to long-term success. Below are some suggestions for creating harmony at work. Following these simple steps will save time and resources when things arise.
Five Steps to a Peaceful Work Environment
Step One: People are Priority
Make good relationships first priority: Relationships with people are more important than who wins. Do your best to be courteous to one-another and remain constructive under pressure. It is helpful to understand that the conflict may be a mutual problem, which may be best resolved through discussion and negotiation rather than through raw aggression.
Listen first; talk second: To solve a problem effectively you have to understand where the other person is coming from before defending your own position.
Step Two: Gather Information
Keep people and problems separate: Recognize that in many cases the other person is not just “being difficult”–real and valid differences can lie behind conflictive positions. By separating the problem from the person, real issues can be debated without damaging working relationships.
By using active listening skills you can ensure you hear and understand other’s positions and perceptions.
Also, try to understand the conflict in objective terms: Is it affecting work performance? Damaging the delivery? Disrupting teamwork? Hampering decision-making? And so on. Be sure to focus on the issues and leave personalities out of the discussion.
Step Three: Agree on the Problem
This sounds like an obvious step, but often different underlying needs, interests and goals can cause people to perceive problems very differently. You’ll need to agree the problems that you are trying to solve before you’ll find a mutually acceptable solution. Set out the “Facts”: Agree and establish the objective, observable elements that will have an impact on the decision.
Step Four: Brainstorm Possible Solutions
Explore options together: Be open to the idea that a third position may exist, and that you can get to this idea jointly. If everyone is going to feel satisfied with the resolution, it will help if everyone has had fair input in generating solutions. Brainstorm possible solutions, and be open to all ideas, including ones you never considered before.
Step Five: Negotiate a Solution
By this stage, the conflict may be resolved: Both sides may better understand the position of the other, and a mutually satisfactory solution may be clear to all. However you may also have uncovered real differences between your positions. This is where a technique like win-win negotiation can be useful to find a solution that, at least to some extent, satisfies everyone.
There are three guiding principles here:

  1. Be Calm
  2. Be Patient
  3. Have Respect

Key Points
Conflict can be incredibly destructive to good teamwork.
Managed in the wrong way, real and legitimate differences between people can quickly spiral out of control, resulting in situations where co-operation breaks down and the team’s mission is threatened. To calm these situations down, it helps to take a positive approach to conflict resolution, where discussion is courteous and non- confrontational, and the focus is on issues rather than on individuals. When we honor people by listening carefully and explore facts, issues and possible solutions properly, conflict can often be resolved effectively.


Tammy Holyfield is a business development strategist, professional speaker, leadership expert, author and consultant, on a mission to teach and inspire people to improve their everyday life. Using the methods and principles she teaches, Tammy has overcome great obstacles. Her message is dynamic, encouraging people to succeed and inspiring them to act!
Holyfield began her professional career in marketing and served as the Director of Marketing for Summit Pet Product Distributors, the IAMs Pet Food (Proctor and Gamble) regional distribution center. Today, she is the founder and CEO of Holyfield Consulting, a personal and business development company. Holyfield Consulting specializes in organizational development, strategic planning, communication, building trust, strengthening teams, leadership development, increasing accountability and executing results. Each week she writes a column entitled “Ask the Coach”® which provides readers a fresh perspective on current challenges facing the business world.
Tammy addresses thousands of people each year from diverse Fortune 500 companies and has consulted, and trained entrepreneurs, CEO’s, professionals and individuals from all walks of life. Her ideas are proven, practical and get results. And clients say that working with Tammy created an increase in moral, solidified corporate culture, and bridged the communication gap from vision to results. Her audiences and clients agree, Tammy teaches techniques and strategies that are easy to understand and put to use immediately to achieve greater results in their lives and careers.
Her latest book hit number 2 on the Amazon Best-Seller list, co-authored with the legendary business development expert, best-selling author and speaker, Brian Tracy. “Counter-Attack: Business Strategies for Explosive Growth in the New Economy” will feature Brian Tracy along with leading experts from around the world across diverse fields of business.