When faced with a demanding boss, pushy co-worker or difficult mother-in-law, we face a tough decision – do we resist or submit to the pressure we feel?

Out of a sense of social obligation or fear of unintended consequences, we often continue on the path of least resistance till we find ourselves under “pressure” to do something we did not really want to do or have time to do. The result is pent-up frustration, resentment, guilt, and anger.

A new truth to learn: the “right” thing to do, should also be right for you. Here are FIVE ways to handle pressure situations.

Diffuse at source

Finding the source allows you to lift the pressure valve. Diffusing the pressure is a good place to start.  It requires you to get clear on the situation. For instance, your boss is pressuring you to stay longer hours impacting your work-life balance. So, what does he really need? Is he facing his own deadline, or is he concerned about your productivity? Understanding the source of the pressure allows you to better mitigate the situation. You could request additional resources for a deadline or work on your performance during normal work hours.

Let your voice be heard

When we don’t speak up, we tacitly accept a situation as far as others are concerned. “You should have come to me,” managers will say when they finally realize you are upset. Out of fear, anxiety or sheer lethargy, you may choose not to speak up at the outset. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it may be time for your voice to be heard. At work or at home, practice expressing disagreement and your opinion, don’t just go back to your own corner and sulk. Just like we tell children, use your words!

Be assertive, not aggressive

Assertion is a learned skill, it allows you to be yourself without being argumentative, hostile or offensive. Start letting go of your guilt and start saying no to pressure with small things first. As you practice self-expression, be assertive not aggressive. Use “I” statements instead of “You” statements. Assertion stands on the pillars of clear, honest, specific and respectful communication.

Set and maintain boundaries

As you start asserting yourself, it is important to capitalize on this strength and create some boundaries. If you decide you will not be available to work nights, be specific with your boss about that boundary. Another area we often feel pressured is our finances. If your partner is making demands outside of your budget, be realistic and firm with the new rules you would like to assert. Boundaries are crucial to fight pressures, creating and maintaining them. Work and family may hold out for a moment of weakness to encroach these boundaries. In these instances, consistent enforcing without becoming frustrated is the key to long-term success.

“No, and…”

Presenting an alternative can help ease the pressure off yourself. Validating the request prior to saying no helps the receiving party feel understood. By saying, “No, and…”, you can suggest an alternative that allows you to stand your ground AND search for common ground.

There are various ways to say no, but when you say it with open body language and confidence, it creates a sense of authenticity. It helps to offer an explanation if it is relevant or even present a creative solution. Learning to say “No, and…” is one of the best ways to start saying no. Suggesting an alternative allows you to stand your ground AND find common ground.


To fully resist the various pressures we constantly face, you need to build up your confidence and strength to have the power to say no without offense or guilt. As you understand the source, express your voice, assert yourself and enforce healthy boundaries, you will find yourself in fewer and fewer disempowered situations.

To handle pressures specific to your daily life contact me for a complimentary consult. For more empowerment tips and strategies to elevate your career, join me @CoachLeena.

This article was first published on www.womenworking.com/profile/leena-roy/