How to deal comfortably with difficult situations


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It’s inevitable that, at some point, we’ll all have to deal with a difficult situation. Whether it’s a complaint from a major client or a team rebelling, or perhaps suppliers letting you down. You’ll never know what it will be or when it’s likely to happen, but it will.

So, what can you do to give such situations a successful outcome, and feel confident and in control of the process?
(Image: Shutterstock)

1. Calm

Firstly, remain calm. This may seem obvious and superfluous advice. But, unless you are in a calm state of mind, you won’t be able to make sensible, logical or effective decisions. If you’re suffering from panic, there’s no chance that the next few steps will help (or even happen)!

2. Analyse

Next, seek out a quiet place to analyse the situation. Ask yourself:

• who are the people involved?
• what are the issues?
• what are the outcomes desired by everyone?
• how long do we have to resolve this?
• what help and support do I need, or can I get?

Clarifying the situation will help take the panic and fear out of it and aid you in finding a solution.

3. Identify options

When you have a good understanding of the situation, you need to identify all of the options available to you. Work methodically though all of the sensible options. It’s also worth considering some radical options too. Once you’ve finished, ask the people whose opinions you value. They may be able to identify any further options.

4. Pick an option

With all of the options in front of you, you’ll be able to review the situation in the light of possible solutions. At this stage, it’s worth mulling over each option, especially the ones that are attractive, but a little outlandish. Often, they will trigger a variation of that idea which gives you your ideal outcome but is more pragmatic. At other times, the best way forward may be a hybrid of two or more ideas.

Finally, you need to pick an option.

5. Imagine the worst

If you still feel anxious, a useful exercise is to visualise your chosen path and it leading to the very worst outcome. Almost always, this worst outcome is entirely manageable and nowhere near as daunting as you first thought.

6. See it through

Having understood the situation and all of its complexities, explored all of the options, faced the worst outcome and made a decision, you now need to see it through. Follow your plan with confidence and conviction until a time when the evidence (rather than nerves) tells you that another path would be better.

7. Reflect

Whatever the outcome of this situation, it’s important to reflect. The reasons are that you will:
• learn from any mistakes, or learn what could be improved
• celebrate when the outcome has been positive
• reinforce the process so that you can face the next tough situation with even more confidence.

Unfortunately, there always is a next time, but, with luck, you’ll be ready to face it head on!


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