29.06.2023 Today’s Insights from Harvard Business Review: Managing Anxiety When There’s No Room for Error
As exacting standards are typical in major Western firms, you will likely face professional situations where “flawless execution” (as consulting firms like to call it) is expected. “But,” new hires like you may wonder, “Isn’t it only human to make mistakes?”
While the answer is yes, it’s still uncomfortable to discover – or be discovered – when such an incident occurs. As former clinical psychologist Alice Boyes recommends in the piece below, it’s best for you: a) to think ahead and plan for how to prevent/minimize such occurrences and yet, b) to consider, in advance, how an ambitious international student (like you!) might feel emotionally in such situations. (Of course, it’s also critical to appropriately address the error among relevant stakeholders).
Dr. Boyes’ recommendations for managing anxiety when there’s no room for error include the following strategies:
- Distinguish between small and large mistakes (and manage the information you have)
- Adopt risk-reducing systems and habits (and encourage feedback on such methods)
- Get support to address your weaknesses (and it’s okay to “enlist a village” to do so)
- Play on your strengths (and on how these can be used to resolve the current problem)
- Address self-sabotaging behaviors (and get out of your own way when necessary!)
- Collaborate with others focused on the same issues (and share common learning)
Reduce small-threat distraction by taking simple actions to mitigate those risks (and don’t let minor issues capture your attention)
and, interestingly, Consider a hobby that allows you to make mistakes (to add balance to your life)
For aspiring talent like you, who are entering a global workplace for the very first (or second or third…) time, adopting any/all of these approaches can alleviate stress surrounding making errors, support renewed focus and even prevent some mistakes from happening.
The linked HBR article contains useful counsel for all levels of students (including you), and even professionals you may know who are already in the workforce. Discussing such issues in MC coaching sessions, and even role-playing how to address them with our coaches, will go a long way toward reducing your anxiety when unexpected slips do occur.