People who thrive in high pressure situations share these 9 traits

I hate working under pressure.

Sure, there are some benefits to it – when you’re in a high-pressure situation, there’s zero space left for worrying because you’re wholly focused on action, for example. I’d definitely count that as a plus.

Overall, though, I much prefer taking small steps every day to ensure I don’t need to put myself under pressure shortly before the deadline.

The same can’t be said about my friend. She not only handles high-pressure situations with ease, but she also thrives in the process.

“Pressure is when I work at my best,” she once told me.

And she’s not the only one. As it turns out, people who thrive in stressful situations share similar traits – here are the main 9.

1) They keep a cool head

When everything seems to be crumbling down around you, the last thing you need is to collapse on the floor and have a mental breakdown.

In a stressful scenario, panic is your worst enemy.

Luckily, people who thrive on pressure don’t really need to worry about that. They have the amazing ability to keep a cool head and think rationally despite the emotional overwhelm.

If there are ten different things that need their immediate attention, they quickly decide what the biggest emergency is and take it from there.

If an accident has occurred, they know what to focus on in order to solve the problem instead of hysterically running around.

As you can see, there’s a certain theme…

2) They have great decision-making skills

Indecisiveness has no place in high-pressure situations. And people who are cut out for this sort of thing instinctively know that.

They decide quickly and they decide well.

This means they often make for amazing CEOs, firefighters, policemen, or journalists.

They can delegate tasks, organize different processes, and act with self-assurance when the world most needs them.

3) They are resourceful

Making good decisions largely relies on resourcefulness – if you can’t see a way out of the problem, how are you going to make any sort of decision about it?

This is where having an open and creative mind comes in handy.

Remember that friend I mentioned?

She is incredibly gifted when it comes to thinking outside the box. If she’s tried all the routine procedures and nothing seems to work, she comes up with a new solution, be it a combination of different things or a whole new idea entirely.

People like that look at the world around them and see possibilities, not restrictions. And that’s because…

4) They have an optimistic mindset

If you were a firefighter who thought the building was inevitably going to burn to ashes, you probably wouldn’t bother trying to douse the fire in the first place.

Or you’d have a meltdown in the middle of a burning kitchen. Your choice.

People who thrive in high-pressure situations are fueled by optimism. They believe that if they just work a bit harder and think a bit smarter, they will reach a solution.

If you call on more firefighters to give you a helping hand, you might just as well save the house. If you use a ladder instead of the stairs, you might find the cat that’s stuck in the bedroom on the first floor.

If you love working under a lot of pressure, it’s because you believe in your capabilities to deal with each challenge as it comes. In fact, you’re excited to take on that challenge and grow as a result.

5) They are less likely to be neurotic

All of the above is influenced by a person’s ability to withstand negative emotions. Stress, anxiety, depression, panic, self-doubt – these are all things that can make or break the deal.

It all depends on your reaction.

A 2017 study found that neurotic people perform sub-optimally under pressure. Their decision-making skills worsen and their cognitive resources are negatively impacted.

And since neuroticism is all about how much you tend to experience negative emotions, it makes a lot of sense that people who thrive under pressure are often confident and optimistic.

6) They have excellent communication skills

When my mind becomes a storm of emotions, I can shut down. Not knowing how to phrase what I want, I remain quiet.

My friend who loves pressure? Not so much.

I’ve always admired her ability to communicate exactly what she needs in the exact tone the situation requires.

She’s not rude, yet she’s assertive.

She’s not overly polite, yet she still makes you feel good about yourself.

She cuts to the chase, yet she doesn’t seem blunt or insensitive.

Her communication skills in high-pressure situations blow my mind. It’s like she was born for this kind of thing.

7) They get bored when nothing much happens

You didn’t think this whole article would be just praise, did you?

No matter how great something is, it’s always possible to take it too far or go down the wrong path.

The ability to thrive under pressure included.

If you love working in conditions that involve a lot of energy and adrenaline, it’s understandable that the moment your life stops for a little bit, you feel… empty. Discarded. Useless.

Come on, where are all the high stakes? Where’s the adrenaline rush? Where’s the dopamine reward after you’ve completed a super stressful task?

But not everything is supposed to be an emergency. Sometimes, life is about slowing down and taking the time to just…be.

8) They can be reckless

This is a classic Gryffindor case. If you love the thrill of an adventure that gets your heart pumping, you’ll go out looking for it, throwing yourself into situations that aren’t necessarily good for you.

Sure, you might make great decisions in the moment itself, but that doesn’t mean that getting yourself tangled up in this mess was a good idea to begin with.

If you’re seeking that good old adrenaline rush, give some fun – and safe – adrenaline experiences a try. Bungee jumping, skydiving, you know the drill.

Do something that makes you feel alive without high risks of danger.

9) They have a thick skin

The good news is, people who thrive in high-pressure situations can be incredibly resilient.

If they fail, they don’t just give up. No, they pick themselves back up again and keep on trying until they reach their goal.

This cycle of trial and error leads them to develop a thick skin, learn from their mistakes, and evolve as people.

So, as you can see, pressure may sound bad – it’s associated with stress and anxiety, after all – but sometimes, it can actually be a good thing.

Especially for those who absolutely love it.

Denisa Cerna

Hi! I’m a fiction author and a non-fiction freelance writer with a passion for personal development, mental health, and all things psychology. I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature MA and I spend most of my time reading, travelling, and – shocker – writing. I’m always on a quest to better understand the inner workings of the human mind and I love sharing my insights with the world. If any of my articles change your life for the better… mission accomplished.
Get in touch at or find me on LinkedIn.

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