Sometimes I feel like I drive people crazy because of my calm demeanor. Many people call me in a panic over some gigantic problem they are experiencing only to have me react by reminding them that this is just a typical business situation – not a problem. We can figure this out and it will be okay.
I try to say, without sounding like a Jamaican bartender, “No problem man! Here’s what we can do.” Having that calming effect typically irritates people, especially those who are wound pretty tight. Over time I’ve learned to separate the people from the problem, the emotion from the facts and the personal issues from the best interest of the company. My job is to listen, separate, then advise.
People want you to panic when they panic so you can relate to how they are feeling. They might think it will produce faster results, but it doesn’t. For example, on a job site when the project is delayed and you are just showing up, they want you to compress your timeline and accomplish the impossible – and they want this done without compromise. It’s only your problem if you let it be, otherwise a common situation that you should know how to respond to.
In my mind I see a difference between problems and situations. Problems seem to create such a negative or difficult environment to accomplish results, whereas as a situation is simply a combination of circumstances that have risen from the very nature of the business we are in. I like to separate the two and coach companies on the cultural aspects of this.
Every résumé you see today describes the potential new hire as an “experienced problem-solver,” – they get told to write that. I’d rather hire someone who can come in and help prevent normal situations from becoming problems. Or better yet, someone who establishes a culture of dealing with situations and difficult people without triggering negative behaviors in others. The best employees will help buffer these situations and isolate them from the customer.
There needs to be someone in every organization that provides the voice of reason for others. The person with the voice of reason eventually elevates themselves within the project team or management group. A person who always seems to take a positive approach to whatever they are faced with is quite valuable – and becoming scarce.
In the end, your customers and co-workers will value a calming influence more than an alarming behavior. I believe that teaching situational awareness and encouraging positive approaches will promote rational thinking which dictates a positive outcome far better than the instant reaction from a person who panics.
Your employees will go crazy if all they did was deal with problems all day long. I enjoy hearing about all the different situations our members are faced with and then advising them on proven methods and best practices for dealing with them. If we dump problems on key employees all day long they too will become problems and/or leave. – CW