Things don’t always work out as planned; as a matter of fact, they rarely do. I think most of us are clearly aware of that yet when faced with adversity, particularly in a business situation; some don’t react in the most positive way. Actually, some people completely lose their cool and become hostile, aggressive and demeaning. When reactions sink to this level, it tells others that this might be their default mode for handling all stressful situations. The inability to deal with challenges means you cannot provide the best service to your clients nor promote tranquility and teamwork amongst your peers and employees. Plainly, you fail as a leader.
I recently worked with a vendor to finance a project for their client. I communicated regularly with the client and vendor at each step of the way while executing the numerous documents a business finance normally requires. The process calls for patience and an open communication channel so everyone knows the status. If you have ever refinanced your home, then you know what I’m talking about. At the end of the deal, the vendor became very impatient insisting that the lender inspect the work performed so they could get paid. This phase can take several days to a week yet after the second day, the vendor called me to threaten the lender with taking their business elsewhere. The vendor lost their composure, reacted poorly and alienated me and the lender with their antics.
What was gained by this behavior? Nothing, what was lost? The trust of all parties involved which will never again work together. In business, you will find yourself with all types of issues like work being finished late, the slow processing of documents, poor execution, schedules not meeting deadlines, etc. The success we achieve in business and as leaders will be determined directly on how we learn to cope with inevitable issues and how well we improvise. Will blowing up, venting to everyone around us and chewing out the most convenient person build trust, integrity and good will for your reputation and company?
Consider these steps when things do not go as planned and the tension builds:
1) Take a deep breath and step momentarily away from the situation. In the heat of the moment, you will not see the total picture and may overreact to things which later may seem incidental. Things that work for me include a visit to the gym, go for a jog, play with your dog or call a friend to chat about something unrelated.
2) Once away from the stress and you are ready to re-engage, think through a plan of action. Evaluate the alternative choices on how to handle the challenge or roadblock and shoot for an outcome in which the parties involved will win or at least keep their dignity. My firm belief is if someone has failed you completely then separate yourself from them but do it without crushing them.
3) Execute your action plan with a slow, controlled demeanor and speak softly and evenly. Don’t let the stress allow your mouth to run off without you and stay in complete control. Undoing harsh words and actions are much more stressful, painful and embarrassing than thinking it through the first time around. If your plan is to confront and discuss a sensitive agenda with someone, then try a slow intentional delivery in a neutral location which will put them more at ease and increase the chances your message will be more clearly heard and understood.
The cornerstone of every great leader and successful business person is one that can think clearly, methodically and logically under stress. Our great presidents, coaches, teachers and generals are remembered and honored for performing at a high level under stress. By using a few simple steps, we can all practice keeping our cool under pressure.
Lester M. Salvatierra is an experienced and licensed Finance Specialist with First U.S. Finance (http://www.FirstUSFinance.com). He helps small to mid-size companies lease or finance a wide variety of equipment and special projects nationwide. He is passionate about referral marketing and is a business networking coach and Area Director for Business Network Int’l in Ventura County, California. Sign up now to follow his business networking blog at: http://theRogueNetworker.com
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