The article was originally posted on Forbes Coaches Council.

In the high-pressure world of professional services firms, key decision-makers often grapple with difficult situations and people. While the urge to simply speak your mind is tempting, that’s a luxury not well afforded to leaders. The more senior you are, the more expectations are placed on you, and thus the more you need to be deliberate in your conversations.

So how can you navigate difficult situations, conversations and people while maintaining composure and protecting the firm’s future and yours? After working with hundreds of attorneys in firms of varying sizes across North America, I’ve identified five fundamental principles for keeping your cool in even the most tense situations and conversations.

1. Embrace Intent-Impact Alignment

When confronted with a difficult person or situation, reflecting on your role and intentions is essential. As a senior leader, your behavior holds significant weight, and professionalism is paramount. Your actions, body language or doubts are also likely to have an impact on the situation.

One of the best strategic decisions you can make as a leader is aligning your impact with your intent. The intent-impact gap lies between how you intend your words or actions to be received and their actual impact on the other party. If there’s dissonance between the two, it can erode trust, create more weakness in your team structure and ultimately undermine your potential for elevated success.

How do you overcome the intent-impact gap? By being more intentional with how you communicate. Start asking questions such as the following: “What is your understanding of what we just talked about?” “What questions do you have about what we discussed?” “Are there any new areas of uncertainty or concern you would like to discuss?”

2. Reframe Through A New Lens

To navigate difficult situations, it’s vital to examine the stories we tell ourselves. For example, a client recently walked by a conference room to see two colleagues meeting with a senior partner. Her first thought was that she was purposefully excluded. She made an assumption, as we all do, only to learn later this wasn’t the case. In fact, they were trying to save her time and sent a quick email to fill her in on the discussion. After we talked it through, the next time my client saw colleagues meeting without her, she chose to consider other possibilities instead of jumping to conclusions. Reframing her perspective allowed her to avoid a potentially volatile situation.

As a leader, if you make an assumption about someone’s intent, particularly if you believe they’re being hostile, pause and reassess the situation. This level of power is the secret to elevating your impact as a leader. Owning your bias and leveraging introspection can help distinguish between what is true and what is merely a self-imposed doubt or misconception.

3. Focus On Tasks, Not People

When dealing with difficult individuals, shifting your attention from personal conflicts to the tasks or problems at hand is imperative. Recognize that your immediate reaction doesn’t necessarily dictate future experiences. You may already be familiar with making absolute terms like “never” or “always” off limits as they signal a maligned mindset. Instead, focus on constructive paths to a solution by emphasizing the goal, strategy and vision.

You can effectively manage emotions and maintain a productive state by redirecting focus away from the individual and their influence. It may be challenging to separate the message from the messenger, and yes, each can influence the other. Still, it’s an important leadership skill to compartmentalize so you can stay focused on the task at hand. Remind yourself that you can reach a positive outcome together.

4. Prepare For Resistance, Aim For Resolution

Sometimes, individuals may be firmly entrenched in their positions, making it challenging to find common ground. When you know you’re going to enter this kind of scenario, it’s crucial to remain composed. Go into it looking for areas of agreement or shared interests, then attempt to build on them to reach a resolution.

However, if finding common ground becomes unattainable, consider engaging a mediator, preferably someone whose insight is mutually trusted and who can ask direct questions and facilitate a resolution. For example, seeking wisdom from a mentor who can help disarm an emotionally charged situation may be worthwhile. In a particularly charged situation, I recommend stepping away and reconvening at an agreed-upon later time. Just be sure that you don’t put it off indefinitely.

5. Emphasize Firm-First Culture

Creating a culture where your people think of the firm’s health, reputation and future can help ensure you’ll thrive through disruptive times. Encourage your people to consider not only their relationships and practices but those of the firm as a whole. Like the Yankees with an injured Aaron Judge, you can only win if you rely on more than one star player. So having a team mentality that everyone believes in is key.

As a decision-maker, navigating difficult people and situations is an inevitable aspect of your role. By approaching these challenges with self-awareness, a constructive mindset and a focus on tasks rather than personalities, you can overcome obstacles while maintaining professionalism and cultivating a strong, beneficial outcome.