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Business psychologist Sharon Melnick provides a plan for keeping your cool when the pressure’s on.

 

Wake-up call

Set a Horizon Point

“A horizon point is an outlook that embodies the qualities you want to personify,” says Melnick. “Make it part of your daily routine by thinking about it as soon as you wake up and returning to it throughout the day. When you are functioning as your ideal self, you will perform better in stressful situations.” 

 

Commute

Use the 50% Rule

“Every situation can be divided into two parts: the half you can control and the half you can’t. Say you get a flat tire. Take control of your half—your thoughts, reactions, and communication—and don’t worry about everything else. You’ll be able to respond to the problem better if you do.”

 

Meeting

Think in Threes

“To reset after a contentious encounter, try three-part breathing: inhale, hold, and exhale, all for equal counts. Then consider what happened from three alternative perspectives. When we’re under stress, we tend to take things personally. Remember to take a step back.” 

 

Presentation

Change Your Tune

“Be a better DJ of your own mental iPod. Instead of worrying about what others are thinking of you, move your attention elsewhere. It’s like skipping a song: Rather than focusing on the negative, think about someone who loves and respects you. This can boost your confidence instantly.”

 

Sharon Melnick, Ph.D., is the author of Success Under Stress.

 

 

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