A small town in Switzerland has to be evacuated because they literally have a rock hanging over their heads. While this might be quite a unique event, all of us have experienced the angst and negative energy caused by a looming crisis. What is the best way to deal with everyday threats like deadlines, interviews, confrontations?
Swiss authorities have instructed residents of the small Alpine town, Brienz to evacuate by 12 May over concerns that two million cubic metres of rock will collapse and damage or destroy the village. (Read more) The mountain and its rocks have been moving since the last ice age and even the village has been moving a few centimetres each year. While this looming rockfall might be an extreme example of “something hanging over one’s head”, any relentless threat can be very draining. Anticipating the crisis is, however, still better than being caught unaware like the population of Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted or the residents and holidaymakers on Phi Phi island when the 2004 tsunami hit.
A threat is unpleasant, but at least you know about it and can prepare. In that preparation, lies the opportunity to reduce uncertainty and stress. Timeous warning, expertise and an action plan are crucial when it comes to natural disasters, but what tactics can we employ to reduce the impact of everyday stress? Whether it is an imminent deadline or a confrontation you can no longer ignore, preparation is all about ensuring that you are informed, confident and calm.
- Clarify the problem. Make sure you take the unknown out of the equation.
- Empower yourself with knowledge. Make sure you have accurate information and understand the challenge.
- While acknowledging your emotions are good and healthy, keep them in check when addressing the situation.
- Keep perspective and an open mind.
- Identify the black, white and grey areas.
- While thinking on your feet is a great skill, being thoughtful is very important.
- Stay calm. It is easier to do when you have clarity, knowledge and perspective.
- Set the scene. Where possible, choose a neutral space for a confrontation to prevent unnecessary additional stressors.
- When the situation involves other people, stay respectful in your demeanour.
- Focus on the core issue and be aware to not get caught up in the details.
- Be resolution focused.
- Learn from your experience. Look for best practices and learn from mistakes.
- When your challenge involves your team or family, mobilise! Ensure you are on the same page by identifying key messages, set guidelines and a chain of command when required.
- Keep in mind that you can’t always control the outcome. Prepare for various scenarios.
- I can’t stress this enough, be prepared.
While we might not have a literal rock hanging over our heads, South Africans understand the meaning of a looming crisis. We aren’t always able to address big issues like threats to our economy, but we have plenty of opportunity to learn from them so that we are prepared for threats, whether they are personal or in business.