Breathe! Just Breathe

“Breathe! Remember to breathe”; as my rowing coach says before a race. Or as I advise my clients; “Breathe. Just breathe”.

You know the situation. You are in the presentation and you forget what you wanted to say. Your mind races and you begin to panic. You don’t want to appear the fool as time seemingly flies past, it isn’t, but still your mind is a blank. “Breathe! Just breathe”; find composure. If once you have calmed and the point comes to you, make it. If it doesn’t come to you, move on. If it was important, your audience will raise it during Q&A. If not, then it is just as well that you left it out.

The same goes for meetings. You’re having a tough time. You are on the receiving end of difficult questions that you weren’t expecting. You didn’t answer the first question well and it has gone downhill from there. You might want to fight, or you might want to crumble. “Breathe. Just breathe”; sit back in your chair and turn it slightly to one side and find your composure. Focus on your key arguments and figure out if you are in a position of strength or weakness. Respond with confidence.

You’ve been called into a meeting and the head of HR is there. This isn’t going to be pleasant. “Breathe. Just breathe”; you’ll get through this meeting OK. Tomorrow is another day with new opportunities. For now, just focus on your breathing and keep your composure.

You’re in the job interview and you’re asked the question that exposes your weakness. You were dreading this moment. “Breathe. Just breathe”; rather than focus on your weakness, focus on your strength. That’s what makes you special. It’s what makes you unique. It’s why you are successful. Admit the weakness and follow up with an argument as to why your strength is better than if you did not have the weakness.

You tend to babble, and you are in a presentation or you have been asked a question and you can hear yourself babbling like a brook. “Shut up! Breathe. Just breathe”. If you have answered the question, keep your mouth shut. If you haven’t; collect your thoughts into a concise coherent point and make it with confidence.

It’s so easy. We get caught up in the moment and we forget to breathe. If it is 30 seconds into an eight minute race my body will be in the red zone and I won’t perform well. If you are in the corporate environment, you too will be in the red zone if you do not focus on your breathing and take control of the situation, and yes, you won’t perform well either. The solution is simple. Stop what you are doing. Take a few breathes. Focus on your breathing. Collect your thoughts. Respond with confidence.