Dealing with Difficult Situations at Work
Difficult situations at work—major errors, sudden change, conflicts, and emotional meltdowns—affect every workplace. A popular question in employment interviews is “Can you give me an example of a difficult situation and how you handled it?” Often full of drama, difficult situations (you know them when you experience them) require maturity, skill, and a cool head. Minimizing disruption to the workplace is the goal, and bosses typically know who they will turn to for help in managing difficult situations. Here are a few tips to help that person be you: 1) Challenges and curveballs happen at home and at work. Don’t be surprised by them. See conflict as normal and change as inevitable. 2) Accept these realities when they happen, and resist the impulse to emotionally respond to them. 3) Avoid being pulled into the drama of a difficult workplace situation. 4) Maintain a cool head by understanding that all crises, large and small, have beginning and end points; a resolution will come. 5) When focusing on resolution, avoid blame and over-attention to symptoms. Think: “What’s the real problem here?” to help identify the best approach. 6) Maintain an attitude of “opportunity found.” This “lens” or point of view will help you spot opportunities to make things better that can help prevent a recurrence of a similar difficult situation.