At work and home, amongst family and friends or strangers, it’s a fact of life that difficulties will eventually arise. While your instinctive emotional response to these tough spots may be to react with anger, panic or fear, a display of grace demonstrates leadership, commands respect and works to defuse volatile situations. To remain calm and poised in the face of great challenges requires self-control, impartiality, responsibility, confidence and a strategy for resolution.
Curb your instinctive response with an emotional management technique, such as counting to ten, taking deep breaths or silently reciting a positive, personal mantra. Project a positive, impartial and in-control attitude to inspire confidence and cooperation in all involved parties.
Take a step back, both physically and mentally, to allow yourself the appropriate time and space to properly assess the situation. Utilize this time to evaluate your own thoughts and emotions to determine if they are an appropriate or out of proportion response.
Assess your role and responsibility in regards to the difficulty. Acknowledge your own accountability and be ready to make apologies and reparations as necessary, whether you bear full responsibility or not. An approach of accountability helps to neutralize many problems before they boil over.
Evaluate the viewpoints and accountability of all involved parties. Prepare to acknowledge each participants’ value and contributions before pointing out flaws and errors. Compliments help prepare individuals to accept constructive criticism, as Dale Carnegie points out in the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People."
Determine if the situation needs to be resolved, tolerated or abandoned. This simple assessment helps you clarify the desired outcome, which in turn helps you narrow in on potential strategies to address the tough situation.
Consult peers or mentors to discuss the situation. Talking the issue over with other individuals provides the opportunity to discover fresh perspectives and alternative solutions, as well as a place to express private thoughts and emotions to an uninvolved party.
Formulate an appropriate response to the problem that demonstrates confidence and incorporates a plan to move forward from the issue. Even in tough situations when you feel overwhelmed or powerless, projecting self-assurance helps you get a handle on the issue and assures others of your capabilities. Coming up with a plan also gives you a sense of control and gives you actionable steps to focus on.
Implement the response strategy as planned with decisive action, while remaining flexible to accommodate any unexpected issues that arise. Address the concerns of all involved parties with the express understanding that that all issues should be brought up and resolved at this time.
Accept the decided upon compromises and resolutions with a positive attitude, then focus on moving beyond the problem.
- University of Texas at Dallas: Self-Help: Managing Difficult Emotions
- Dr. Becker-Phelps: Five Steps to Handling Emotionally Difficult Situations
- Forbes: 7 Ways Leaders Maintain their Composure in Difficult Times
- Huffington Post: Grace Under Pressure: Why Difficult Situations Speak the Most About You
- Oprah.com: Deepak Chopra: The 3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Things Go Wrong
- How to Win Friends and Influence People; Dale Carnegie
- Use "and" instead of "but" when combining a compliment with a criticism. A "but" negates the positive impact of the compliment, whereas "and" suggests confidence in an individual's ability to improve.
- Once a resolution has been reached, do not dwell on any unsatisfactory outcomes or compromises. This will only breed frustration and disappointment which will result in new problems.
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