Earthquake damageIf you’ve lived this life, you know that if something can go wrong, it likely will.  Furthermore, things will go so amazingly wrong, that you pretty much have two choices- laugh or cry.  It is really hard to laugh when it is your career on the line, and people are screaming for your head.  So, what’s a person to do?  Here are some tips on how to handle business when things inevitably head south.

When Things Go Wrong

  1. Breathe.  Seriously just breathe.  It’s tempting to just hold your breath.  Breathing, and focusing on the in-out of breathing is a great calming mechanism.  Rather than give in to the flight or fight mechanism, do what you need to do to recenter yourself.  Sometimes, that simply involves breathing, and giving a response a little bit of time to percolate.  That said if something is a true emergency- and someone is going to die, you need to rely on training, and call 911.  Most things in a business environment are not life-threatening though, so take a second to breathe.
  2. Resist the urge to jump in and launch a counter-attack.  Really, think about the times you’ve launched an immediate counter-offensive, and come out swinging proverbially.  I’m sure that it felt great at the time.  What did you achieve?  Did you really make yourself look that much better, or advance your career.  Chances are if you jump in, and start hurling accusations, they may be wrong.  People have a long memory, so when you say nasty things, they’re going to remember.  Those nasty comments will come back to haunt you in the most unfortunate ways.  Men can get away with some of this, but women absolutely cannot.  It is part of the difference in genders in our culture, and it is life.  Deal with it and move on.
  3. Listen.  Really listen to what is being said.  See what is actually happening.  You can’t adequately respond, and react to a situation if you don’t fully understand.  There are few things worse than jumping in before you have the entire picture just to make things drastically worse than they were before.
  4. Figure out what is going on, and do some analysis of what’s happening. Is what is happening merely different from what was originally planned?  Is it really a worse outcome?  If it is a worse outcome, then put plans and counter plans in place.  Realize too, that many times, just because something turns out differently than originally planned, it is not necessarily worse.  It may be that you can ride whatever happened and make it work to your advantage.
  5. Above all else, remember that this too shall pass. At the end of the day, it is just life.  Life happens.  Stuff happens.  Tomorrow will still come regardless.  It’s best to not take life too seriously, as none of us get out alive anyway.  If you can shrug off the bad, and keep moving, you will gain the respect of others who work with you, and will become a model of how to handle stressful situations.  You’ll also make the world a better place.

What do you think?  What are your tips for handling situations when they go wrong ?