People Under Pressure Produce…

Each of us ultimately is just a pile of carbon.

In grade 8 science class Mr. Lenton taught us that all living things are carbon based. He did so with a very memorable (albeit disturbing) story involving his neighbour’s annoying cat and a ‘stakeout’ with his pellet gun, ending with disposal of the remains at what was at the time the site of some large smouldering brush fires near his home as trees were being cleared for the construction of a new mall. As was done in 1984.

Living things = Carbon

People = Carbon

Most of us have heard that diamonds are formed from carbon placed under massive pressure. And some have heard the analogy that people put under pressure will themselves become diamonds. A better version of themselves at least, as the great among us perform at peak levels under pressure.

Diamonds = Carbon

I would agree that this mindset is reasonable, mostly. I myself find that I make the biggest mistakes when I have little to do, whereas my skills seem to increase with a heavier workload and a more immediate deadline. Yes, you and I, we have our skills, and when the heat is on we rise to the occasion and deliver the goods. That’s us doing what we do every single day. That’s us immersed in the familiar.

But let’s talk about our clients.

It’s a different scenario for our clients. They are feeling moderate to extreme pressure before they even meet us. And depending on the circumstances, that pressure has been building for weeks, months, or even years.

Their financing is often part of:

·        Starting a relationship (just engaged/just married)

·        Starting a family (just pregnant…with twins)

·        Starting a business

·        Saving a business

·        Saving a relationship (downsizing or moving)

·        Ending a relationship

The list goes on (with several other stressful things).

In other words, our clients arrive at our doorsteps Pre-Stressed, and they arrive unsure about the process, unsure about us, unsure about all the different decisions they have to make in a very compressed period of time.

Our clients promptly find themselves immersed (drowning) in a world of the unfamiliar. Unfamiliar terms, unfamiliar pace, unfamiliar expenses, and unfamiliar ‘logic’.

So, while we may be tempted to view our clients as being no different from us — just a future pile of carbon dust — the reality is that there may be another powder mixed in with that carbon, you likely have some of it in your own composition.


It’s pretty hard to tell the difference between the two at a glance, and it is impossible to know the specific ratio of carbon to gunpowder that composes the person sitting across from you.

But apply too much pressure to them, and you’ll find out. As it may be an explosive reaction.

All clients should be handled with care.

Every part of our process should be geared towards releasing pressure, not increasing it. Wherever and whenever possible absorb the pressure for your clients.

Each incremental ask you make is another gentle addition of more pressure. We all have a breaking point. Be sensitive to this, and tread lightly.

Our role is to absorb as much of the pressure as possible. It is not to communicate every worst case scenario, it is certainly not to threaten imminent doom, it is to find solutions. Ideally solutions to problems that our clients will never even know existed.

How can you take pressure off your clients?

What additional steps can you be taking on your own?

Don’t react. Don’t deflect. Absorb, think, ask questions, plan, think some more, and that act smoothly.