Staying level headed and calm in tense, frustrating and/or stressful situations can be difficult to say the least. Maybe you’ve had a disagreement with a coworker or have to mediate workplace drama. Perhaps an awkward and potential throw down is occurring over politics at a family gathering. Maybe your business was just robbed and it was scary and now you have employees and customers to calm down. Perchance your wife forgot every college professors’ warning regarding plagiarism and very publicly stole someone else’s speech. Crisis management nightmares come in all shapes and sizes and always have the potential to spiral out of control quicker than Grandma can punch Uncle Ben in the nose.
Over 6 years of working in customer service and 26 years of dealing with people in general, has helped me hone the craft that is crisis management. During stressful situations the burden of leadership often falls to one person or a small group of people. Don’t be caught unprepared for your next crisis! Below are a few take aways on how to navigate a crisis like a true boss.
- Recognize the importance of your actions: It’s in those crucial moments of crisis that we define ourselves as a leader. Recognizing that everything you say and do in this window of time can directly escalate or deescalate the situation you have found yourself in.
- BREATHE: basic but important!
- Take it slow: Jumping to conclusions, moving too quickly, not gathering all the information first are rookie mistakes. You run the risk of looking like a real ass if you don’t get all your facts straight before approaching a scenario. Additionally, speak slowly. When tensions run high I often find myself rushing through my words, letting my feelings take over and speeding through my sentences as if the faster they get out the quicker the whole thing will be over. Think about your words as they come out of your mouth and speak as calmly as possible.
- Be honest: Be upfront about what you know, what you can share with your team or parties involved, and what you can do to rectify the problems at hand. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t talk out of your ass in an attempt to make something go away. If you don’t have the answers, it’s okay to say “I’m not sure, but let me find out. I’ll get back to you.” And then make sure to figure it out and get back to them.
- Keep a brave face: If you are in a leadership position or get thrown into one, remember that you are there for a reason! Someone trusted you and is looking to you to lead them out of Egypt. This means you do you best to keep a calm exterior and lead the way for those behind you.
- Don’t take it personally: Shit is gonna happen. Rude words are going to fly, feelings are going to be hurt, someone is going to be upset and not everyone can win in the outcome. This doesn’t mean you have to dwell on it forever. In the words of Queen Elsa, “let it go.” Once a problem is done and dusted it’s best to keep it that way. If you continue to harp on things it’s only going to hurt more.
Damage control is never a fun task but I encourage stepping up to the plate and dealing with it like a boss rather than stepping to the sidelines. Not only does it build character (like eating your vegetables) but it also helps you build a skill set that is invaluable in family and friend circles, the workplace and during personal crisis.