Don’t Panic

Don't Panic

There comes a bit of wisdom with old age. Little things that would normally floor me no longer seem to matter. I think it has a lot to do with trying to avoid the classic “knee-jerk” response. Much of this tactic seems to revolve around conflict and people.

Case in point, many work in the customer service field. One could make a compelling argument that we all work in customer service when it comes to people. That’s for another discussion. For those who work in a profession that interacts with the public we’ve mostly likely dealt with conflict.

How do you respond? If you or your organization is being criticized do you go on the defensive? Attack back? Too often I see this response. I’m guilty of it.

What I’ve noticed is that when we respond quickly with an unexpected response we often see the conflict deescalate.
Usually the person on the offensive is putting forth as much ammo as possible because they ‘re expecting a retaliatory response.

Immediately respond with something they wouldn’t expect, like “My goodness, I appreciate your call. We wouldn’t be able to improve if we didn’t receive feedback.” The same tactic could apply to email or social media.

What about if faced with more of a situational issue than a person?
To answer this you have to determine a degree of catastrophe.

Another case in point, back in May I made a trip to Temple, TX to visit my wife and son in the hospital. Upon my arrival I noticed my car battery was failing. I was met with panic, at first. Then I began thinking, what is the worst thing that could happen. Yes, I was two hours from home, but what would I have to do? Call a cab to take me back to the hospital or the parts store perhaps? I don’t think I would have died. It would have been very inconvenient, but I would have eventually got to my destination. Fortunately I was able to get to a parts store and change my battery in their parking lot.

Maybe this is a weak example, but what happens if you’re involved in a life or death situation? I hope to not be placed in this position, but I strongly believe the same principle applies. You’re not going to be effective if you are losing control of the situation. Don’t jump to a worst case scenario. Treat the current scenario. Watch how a first responder acts. They prioritize the situation and treat what they can with what they have based on the level of trauma. Staying calm is essential even if everything around you is chaotic.

What’s the take-away?
When faced with a stressful situation, take a step back and look at the big picture. How will your actions affect the outcome? Is it worth it to go with your first instinct or perhaps wait a little longer to weigh your options?

-Thomas
thomas@thomasmiller.me