How do you avoid pressure in the face of a deadline?
Some people just don’t feel pressure at all, no how, no way. Those people live in the cemetery, and the dutiful among us visit them every so often and pay our respects.
The rest of us do feel pressure; the trick is controlling it.
Everybody has their own method of dealing with pressure, blowing off steam, and whatnot. When it comes to negotiating deadlines, one thing that works is visualization. Rather than visualizing total disaster—a usual mental image conjured up by the mere mention of the word deadline—focus on something else. You can think about your Plan B if you have to . . . or maybe the beer you’ll have at the end of the day.
Myself, I like to divert the pressure momentarily; it helps me refocus. Here’s what I mean. Throughout the day during particularly stressful negotiations we take breaks. Sometimes these breaks are called for by our subject, and sometimes by us. For the negotiating team, the breaks follow a regular pattern. First we do a roundtable; everyone on the team gets a chance to voice his or her opinion and suggestions, review what’s going on, etc.
With that done, I totally detach myself from the incident—and take the rest of the team with me. Maybe I tell a funny story about something odd or strange that happened to me or someone else there or just someone I know. It’s amazing to see the tension decrease when we get a moment to laugh about something not related to the situation.