NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Communicating Under Pressure

Communicating Under Pressure


          How we talk and how we listen are always important, but when the pressure is on they become even more important. During stressful times, it is easy to experience misunderstandings that sometimes result in adding more stress to the situation. At times like this, it is helpful to reexamine how we communicate.   The University of Minnesota Extension Service has some specific ways to minimize misunderstanding when communicating under pressure:


Be specific - Listeners are not mind readers. Specifically define the problem or name the feeling. It is unlikely that others will know what we are wanting or feeling if we leave them guessing.


Stay focused - Discuss only the issue at hand. Getting off the track and bringing up old issues is confusing and irritating.


Say less - Silence is helpful when emotions are strong, when we feel stressed or tired. Often, during those times, we say things we do not mean. We tend to exaggerate or escalate the situation to magnitudes that are not real.


Say it with tact - Ban blaming. Keep comments descriptive rather than critical, blaming or all-knowing. Avoid criticism and sarcasm. "I" statements are less threatening to the listener.


Listen Attentively - Listen with empathy. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand their perspective. It is not necessary to agree with the other point of view to understand or empathize with it.


Listen without interrupting - Sometimes it is necessary to stop talking to hear all of the words. Concentrate on the words and pay careful attention to the nonverbal gestures.


Speak carefully- Get all the facts. Listen carefully until you understand what is being said. Ask the speaker to clarify anything that you don't understand. But don't ask too many questions, as that can be distracting.


Listen to yourself- Make a conscious effort to hear how you speak. Do you have a positive or negative attitude? What is your tone of voice? A steady stream of snappy responses puts others on the defensive.


          Although we may not always get what we want, it is important to clearly make our wishes known so we don't build up resentment. When everyone involved in the communication process speaks and listens carefully, it is easier to share perceptions and feelings while moving toward understanding one another.


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