Navigating through difficult times in business

I believe that any disagreement, however uncomfortable, can be turned into a positive experience. I call these moments "speed bumps" because they require us to slow down and look at the circumstances and behaviors that surround the issues we face. Slowing down is important because if you don't, the speed bumps are going to rattle you, and you won't be able to respond appropriately.

For most people, these uncomfortable moments are really opportunities for growth. If they are overlooked, you are left with the same behaviors that caused the upset, and you'll find yourself going through the same difficult dance time and time again. But if you seize the moment and focus on resolving the issue appropriately, without raised voices or accusations, everyone involved will grow.

Learning to slow down and look at your actions, take corrective measures and agree on the best way to proceed is not easy at first. Begin by recognizing that you have hit a speed bump and that you need to use it to make things better. That step alone will keep the situation from escalating into an argument.

Once you have agreed that you are going to work this through in a safe and sane manner, then simply replay your version of what happened between you and your co-worker. This way you both know what the other person thinks and how he or she is feeling. You can then respond to those needs rather than react to your own highly charged emotions.

Not So Fast

Now you need to take a little time to process what's happened. For most people an hour is enough but others may need more or less time. It all depends on your experience; individuals who regularly use speed bumps as growth opportunities need much less time to process their feelings than those who are new to it. Whatever the length of time that is needed you and the other person must agree to never walk away. If that means talking about it into the wee hours of the morning, so be it. Truth be told, if you don't resolve the issue you won't be your best self the next day no matter how much sleep you get.

Once you have experienced what it is like to actually resolve an issue with a co-worker or boss, you will be more available to do it again the next time. You will also have the benefit of not holding on to the negative feelings that accompany arguments. Learning to correctly process and communicate your feelings is one of the best tools you have for maintaining a profitable business - and for keeping your job.

Everyone experiences difficult moments. It is how we handle these moments that make the difference between businesses that work and those that don't. Learning to slow down and calmly investigate the way you deal with problems will make your working world a better and more successful place to be.

So the next time you hit a speed bump, slow yourself down and take a little time to examine how you really feel about what has occurred. It could be the moment that prevents your company from becoming a tragedy and turns it into a triumph.

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