Being a crew member, you will go through big changes both physically and mentally. It can be a great personal journey where you will learn a lot about yourself. It’s also a chance to develop many useful professional and life skills. In this article, you will get some useful insights on how to act with grace and professionalism whilst under pressure on board.
Although professionalism represents something different for everyone, there are some things that you can always do to save time and energy. One of them is having a clear ‘To-Do’ list not just for yourself, but also for the crew you work with every day. Make sure you and your crew mates are well aware of their tasks; especially deadlines!
One of the most important things to avoid is blame and negative talk (including negative self-talk). Instead, use a moment to clear your mind and calm yourself before proceeding to tackle a problem. A great piece of advice I can offer is the ‘3 min rule’. When under extreme pressure, your brain blocks and everything seems blurry. In situations like these, take 3 minutes to breathe and stabilize the level of oxygen, enabling you to think straight again. The importance of breathing to reduce stress is often underestimated.
Even when you’re feeling the pressure, don’t forget to support your crew! Working as a team will usually overcome challenges more than working as an individual. Always remember – you cannot and should not do everything! Working as a team allows everyone to excel and enjoy doing what they’re best at.
A challenge for some is to always be mindful of your actions and words. Whilst under pressure, our ‘demons’ may surface! Learn how to control and manage them to save you potential problems. My tip for you is to think twice before you respond. You may have misunderstood the point, or may be feeling defensive. Take time to process the information before responding.
Dealing with criticism and disrespect on board
Understand that not all criticism is negative. Mostly, it should be constructive and help you to see things differently and improve. But there may be occasions when the criticism is clearly destructive – or even offensive.
It is extremely important to know yourself before you step on a new ‘adventure’. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Have a clear image of what you will not tolerate and remember that communication is key. Make sure you communicate clearly and receive instructions correctly. If in any doubt, communicate to avoid misunderstandings.
There are situations where it’s not about criticism, but more about feeling offended or disrespected. If you feel this has been the case, find a polite way to communicate how you feel without being insulting or attacking in return. In a lot of situations, the other side will be unaware of having offended you. This is quite often the case when there are cultural differences. Always remember – we are not mind-readers! If the offending party does not want to understand how you feel, or even tries to deny they said it/did it, then it is appropriate and important to report the problem to the captain to avoid any reoccurrence. Never feel bad about protecting yourself!
Learn to develop a thick skin and not take things personally
It is absolutely OK to be emotional! Do not feel bad or weak for having certain emotions – you are a human being. But it’s very useful to learn your triggers and weaknesses so that you can manage them better and recognise when you are taking things too personally.
If you are facing (or have faced) anxiety while on board, try to see it as an opportunity to face your fears – instead of avoiding them. It’s very important to allow yourself to go through this process and learn from it (remember the 3 min rule!) The only thing that will NOT help is to turn your back on yourself. Growth and wisdom often come from uncomfortable situations. Always be your own biggest support in difficult times – practice self-love and self-care whenever you can!
When emotions and logic conflict with each other, confusion occurs. Before allowing your emotions to take over, tune into logic and look for facts that may (or may not) support your emotions. Chances are that you’re simply putting emotions before clear logical reason; taking things personally. Don’t jump to conclusions and assumptions as you are more likely to regret impulsive reactions. Remember – patience is key!
In life, every challenge is there to teach us something. View them as lessons instead of punishments. Take what you learn to benefit your future and never feel discouraged. Work on achieving the best version of yourself and learn to take responsibility for yourself instead of trying to escape it. Vice versa – do not take on others’ actions as your own. Allow people space and time to recognise and resolve their own issues – unless you are asked to help.
“Working as a team will usually overcome challenges more than working as an individual.”
“If in any doubt, communicate to avoid misunderstandings.”
“…learn your triggers and weaknesses so that you can manage them better…”
By Marija Raskovic, Head of Operations
Iberian Yacht Solutions – Your Superyacht Agent in Spain