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Updated 22 Feb 2017


How you can keep it together when communicating under pressure

Did you know that how you communicate under pressure very often affects how people will perceive you in the future? 


Karolina Sky Rafalski, 16 February 2017  Share  0 comments  Print


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We talk with and listen to people on a daily basis; it comes naturally and effortlessly as we have been communicating like this since as long as we can remember. But, how you communicate when you are under pressure is very different and very often affects how people will perceive you in the future. The way that we talk and how we listen are always important, but when the pressure is on, this becomes even more important.

During stressful times, misunderstandings occur very often and sometimes result in adding even more stress than needed to the situation. It’s at times like this that it is crucial to step back and re-examine the situation and what our next step in the communication process is.

Whether we are communicating with our superiors, creditors or family members, the three principles for effective communication are listening attentively, speaking clearly and carefully and responding accurately and in a respectful manner no matter the circumstances. 

Related: 3 Annoying online communication habits you need to break

Here are some tips on ways to minimise misunderstanding both in your personal life and in business: 

Listen first

It is vital that you train yourself to listen first. We often engage in conversations and we are so eager to say what we want to say that we block out half of what we are hearing, agree with the person who’s speaking all in an attempt to speed them up to finish so that we can say our bit. 

That is not two-way communication and is the first step to misunderstandings.

Whether you’re in the boardroom, or speaking to a family member or colleague, remember that in order to make your point come across with as much impact and sense as possible, you need to first completely comprehend what the other person is saying to you. This actually gives you an advantage, let them speak their mind to the full first, give yourself a few seconds to process the information and keep your emotions at bay. If you’re not sure about something rather ask them to repeat or rephrase what they have said and ask if that is what they meant. 

Control your emotions 

Emotional -control

Our emotions often get the better of us in the worst of situations. Your heart may be racing, you may be someone who gets sweaty palms, blood rushing to your face, you may not hear clearly at all as your actual hearing may be lowered because we automatically internalise what we are feeling.

You can feel the heat building up inside of you and you can hear your heart beating very loudly. You’re probably also taking information in too personally and this all may add to possible misunderstandings and outburst responses. 

Just remember these steps: Breath in deep breaths, focus on the facts not your emotions, remind yourself not to take things too personally. Rather first get all the facts and try to approach the situation objectively. Focusing on these elements will help you keep your emotions under control.

Related: The manners of language in the communication age

Be specific 

Specifically define the problem or name the feeling, the person listening to you is not a mind reader. While our instinct is to internalise our emotions, we may often as a result put up ‘a wall or barrier’ between us further fuelling any misunderstandings. It is unlikely that another person will know what we are wanting or feeling if we leave them guessing. 

Say less

Silence is golden when emotions are high, and we feel stressed or tired. During those times, we often say things we do not mean. By doing so we tend to exaggerate and make the situation even worse, often to a magnitude that is not real.

Stay focused 

Discuss only the issue at hand. Getting off the track and bringing up old issues is confusing and detracting from the topic at hand. Don’t say things you don’t mean and threaten things you won’t carry out. Remember that you cannot take back your words, and whatever words you speak out, you allow others to judge you on. Always be the bigger person and set an example. If it doesn’t reward you now it will in the future. 

Related: Why communication is key

Say it with tact 

Avoid the blaming game. Keep comments descriptive rather than finger-pointing, and avoid being a know-it-all. None of us know it all, there’s always something to be learned from a situation, so don’t be unnecessarily labelled asthatperson. Avoid criticism and sarcasm.

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About the author


Karolina Sky Rafalski

Karolina Sky Rafalski Motivational and Keynote speaker, Businesswoman, Miss SA top 5 finalist, mother, entrepreneur, communications and psychology professional. With a BA Corporate Communications Degree, an honours degree in Psychology and a specialised postgraduate degree in BPsych Psychometrics Karolina has uniquely married these two diverse fields of study. Combined with her public profile platform, experience as a model in image and creating your own brand, communication, PR and public speaking skills, and expert knowledge in the field of psychology, she is able to motivate, inspire and create self awareness in the business sector and to individuals.

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