As the Apprentices showed in last week’s episode, it really is critical to take a break when you are under pressure.

Shibby found himself disagreeing with team-member Paloma in a meeting with a potential customer. She wanted to take on an extra order which he knew his team could not fulfil. What do you do in that situation? Take a break and sort out a common approach with your team in private. What you do not do is disagree in public in front of your opponent, which is what he did. That exhibits unprofessionalism and makes your team look really weak.

Similarly, poor old Melissa, who was leading the other group, got herself completely off-side when pitching to a hotel management team over an order of breakfast rolls and pastries. Stumped when asked by the other side to quote a price, she sat there in a state of total indecision, poring over her notebook. In the end one of the Hotel management team took pity on her and suggested that she and her team should take a 2 minute break.

Sadly it didn’t help, because she now felt so under pressure that she wasn’t able to take advantage of the opportunity of the recess. In the end the break took 15 minutes instead of 2, and she then came back with a preposterous price which showed that she had not understood her business at all. Had she taken a break before she got herself in such a tizz, maybe she and her team could have used the time more positively.

Breaks are really helpful, they give you and your team the chance to re-group, re-energise and re-unite. If you are feeling under pressure in a meeting ask for a short break to move things forward. The other side is unlikely to say “no”, and you may just avoid making an exhibition of yourself, as our Apprentices did this week.