April 4, 2006
Liz published this at 10:11 am
People say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t judge a book by its cover.Ã¢â‚¬?
In any relationship of substance, there comes a moment when things go wrong. Often folks can simply adjust and move forward, occasionally the damage is large enough that things need to stop before progress can be made. Problems need to be fixed. How these moments are handled can mean the end of a relationship or just the opposite an even stronger bond of respect is forged.
Integrity, graciousness, and the ability to deal in times of problems are key indicators of brand strength and viability. People look to see who you and your business really are when troubles come your way.
Handle Yourself, Not the Problem
Problems are opportunities . . . make lemonade. . . yeah, yeah, we all know that. The truth is. They don’t look or feel that way, when they’re happening and we don’t feel like drinking lemonade. In business, ignoring problems or running away from them usually isn’t an option, at least not for long. So instead, we rush in and try to handle them–be the hero, adrenaline pumping. That’s when we make wrong decisions–knee-jerk reactions happen. Words get said that aren’t our usual, in tones that aren’t our own.
The key to solving problems with grace and brand integrity is NOT to handle them, but to handle ourselves instead. Try these steps the next times a crisis hits to keep your head safely wired to your heart.
1. Breathe before you do anything else. I have a saying on my personal blog, it’s from the very first blog post I ever wrote
When I give my soul a little breathing room . . .
everyone I know gets nicer.
I try to remember, when problems come, that if I don’t feel taken care of myself, I’m not going to give a very good showing. So the first thing I do is a personal check. When was the last time I ate, slept, saw something beside flourescent lighting or a hotel room? I walk outside to see sky and trees if I can. It’s hard to take any business stress over-seriously when I’ve just been confronted with the scope of nature and taken a moment to breathe.
2. The more that you want to run, the more that you should walk instead. Forcing myself to think slowly keeps me from knee-jerk reactions It also leaves space for other folks to talk.
3. The minute you feel righteous you are wrong. When I feel a crusade coming on, I find someone to tell me what I’m not seeing. There is no problem with only one side. I know I need balance. I need somone to tell me what I’m about to get wrong.
4. When you have balance, THEN gather facts to make an informed plan of action.
5. Execute the plan with confidence and calm.
No Need to Be Pollyanna
No, you don’t have to look forward to problems, nor do you need to think the sun is always shining. The world can only take so many Pollyannas. Still, it is nice to have the confidence of knowing that when a problem comes, you can handle it with grace and be a credit toyour brand.
You’ll know you’re there when folks start asking how you stay so cool under pressure. They will. When they do, just smile and paraphrase my sentence for them
I find that when I give myself a little breathing room, everyone gets nicer.
I won’t tell them where you got that from.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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