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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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11.7. An emotional toolkit: pressure, feelings about feelings, and the hero complex

This last section of this chapter will cover emotion-related topics relevant when working on teams where something has gone very wrong. My goal here isn't to provide you with a complete psychological treatise on stress management, but instead to give you a quick survey of issues you will face and the key considerations you need to think about when you face them.

11.7.1. Pressure

The best definition I found for the word pressure is this:

Pressure (v): A compelling, constraining influence or force.

The key word here is constraint. To be under pressure means that there are constraints that can't be moved and must be dealt with. This might be time, resources, the raw difficultly of the situation, or all of the above. The existence of these constraints means that there are fewer choices available and even less time to solve whatever the problem is.

But when people use the word pressure, as in "I'm under pressure," they mean there is some perceived threat of failing to overcome the constraint. A pressure situation, such as a political debate or taking a last-second game-winning shot, means that something important is at stake that can easily be lost (or at least is believed to be so). There are often other people involved who will suffer if they fail to succeed, amplifying the sense of pressure on them.

What's most important to realize about pressure is the different ways people respond to it. Each ...

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