How do you keep your composure while in stressful situations on the job?
Training, life experience, job experience, confidence, good judgement, ability to evaluate the situation, and react professionally
Believe it or not Eric, when you get into a stressful situation in law enforcement, you will usually not have time to think! You will react, based on training and experience, and it won't really get to you emotionally until afterwards.
I worked in a VERY customer-service oriented department, that really frowned on things like arrests (believe it or not. . . . ) The first time I ever drew my firearm was in the middle of a crowded public building. I had never dreamed it would be that way, but, as I walked past an employee when responding to a disturbance, he turned to me and said "be careful - he has a gun." One thing they told us time after time in the police academy is "reaction never beat action." If the bad guy has a gun in his hand, and yours is in your holster, you are at a deadly disadvantage. Based on that training, and, without even thinking, I drew my gun. From that point on, everything is training. Make the arrest. Do the reports. Then afterwards you start thinking about it, play it back in your mind, think of what could have gone differently, and things like that. But not until it's all over.
Also, there is a certain degree of "Acting" that goes with the job. When you put on the uniform, you step into a role, and you play that part. People's expectations of you, because you are in that uniform, help you to be successful in playing that part.
hope this helps!
I am not in law enforcement but I have a friend who is. But I do know what it is like to work in stressful situations. First thing I would do is to analyze how you already handle stress in your life. Some people are cut out for law enforcement and some aren't. So many police officers have anxiety. They are trained to keep their emotions under check at all times, which usually carries over into home life. They are on hyper-alert 24 hours a day, meaning that their body is in a constant state of fight or flight. This is very taxing on the body. First you have to attend a police academy if accepted, then you go through training. Some states are requiring at least an associates degree to become a police officer as well. You have to have a clean background, no felonies, misdemeanors, etc. You also have to be in decent shape. You need to be quick to act and always one step ahead of people. I have a lot of respect for law enforcement officers, so I hope this helps you!
I see you're interested in law enforcement. Unfortunately I'm not in this profession, however I can provide advice on your initial question regarding stressful situations that should apply to any career.
You should take a step back to assess the situation. Too many times when we're under stress it feels like we're forced to make quick decision. This isn't typically the case and usually you'll have a chance to take a moment or some time to think through the situation. Typically you'll find it's not as stressful as it seems once you've thought through how to address it. Giving yourself options on how to resolve will make you more comfortable.
Once the situation has passed get advice from others. Find out if colleagues, friends, family, or anyone you know has encountered. They're bound to give you ideas on how to address in the future that you won't think about.
Through training, experience, mindset, and the ability to think on your feet. Communication skills and how you deal with people also assist greatly. If you do the right thing and treat people good you will succeed.
The best way to get good at anything is to practice. In the 11th grade, I could not have managed some of the stressful situations that I handle now. So don't feel that you have to have all of the skills you will need to have right now, you will get them over time if you choose experiences that make you a little uncomfortable and stretch your abilities.
My father was a police officer. He was great at the job, but he also struggled with anxiety. Some people are naturally calm, he had to cultivate this with practice. All jobs are a combination of things you have a natural talent for and things you have to develop over time. Don't let this discourage you. It's just the way it works.
Beyond all the training and experience you have (or will be receiving) it is extremely important to remember this: It's not personal; it's your job. When someone calls you a foul name or insults your wife/kids/mother it is not personal; the person who levied the insult doesn't know anything about you and is only trying to make themselves look/feel better by baiting you into a fight. When someone physically attacks you, hits/kicks,bites you, shoots at you, etc, it's not personal; the person who attacked you is probably trying to get away from you because they fear what you represent (law, justice, consequences).
What is personal is the pride you take in doing your job to the best of your ability and in knowing that despite all the problems you encountered during the day, you did your best to make a positive difference in the world.