This is a guest post by Daniele Rossi. Please show this awesome guy some love!

I have been complimented many times over years by colleagues on how calm I remain when an issue or crisis hits in the workplace. So I thought I’d share how I keep myself level headed and fully able to think on my feet.

1. Be a problem solver

I take a problem solving approach to everything I do. So when something unexpected and dire happens, my immediate reaction is to assess and come up with possible solutions.

Nothing keeps me calm than knowing possible solutions are at hand.

2. Build a network of support colleagues

Knowing who to call when crisis hits also keeps me calm. If you get their voice mail, follow up with an email. Especially if they have Blackberries, or any other type of mobile device.

This is another benefit of networking internally. You find out who does what, who is the expert in what and they can be that sympathetic voice on the other end of the call.

3. Know your limits

We should always strive to go above and beyond our job description, however, sometimes we just don’t have the resources, knowledge or authorization to do something. Or we have no choice but to wait on another party to complete a task. And sometimes what is an emergency to your team is not even a priority for the third party. No matter how many names your boss or VP try to drop names.

That is why there really is no reason to stress out over this area of the assembly line. You can only physically do what you can do.

For instance, at a former workplace, the corporate intranet went down at the worst possible time (of course). I had no authorization or access to fix it. All I could do was call up the tech powers that be and alert them of the problem to fix it ASAP. I only had user permissions in the CMS, not super admin. Only, they had another crisis on their hands at that time…

Should you find yourself helplessly waiting on something or someone, you will definitely need to…

4. Keep stakeholders updated

Your job is to make your boss happy. Your boss’ job is to make his/her boss happy. And that boss’ job… You get the idea. Everyone is counting on everyone to complete a task or solve a problem. Don’t let them see you sitting by. You’ll get them stressed out.

Keep stakeholders updated on the status of the situation. Back to my corporate intranet story; “I’ve contacted the tech department and they are looking into the situation. In the meantime, they offered X as a short term fix”.

5. Know your alternatives

Being familiar with the systems you use every day in the office can really help you be creative with solving problems. Even within constraints of technology, budget and resources.

Is there a way to work around one of the affected steps in the process?

And when you can think up alternatives on your feet, you’ll be able to handle any unexpected meltdown with more confidence than someone who expects a system to “just work” or someone else to fix it.

Crises are golden opportunities to learn valuable lessons for future upsets. We learn from failure. It’s the way nature intended. Unfortunately, western society preaches the opposite. Once order has been restored and everyone is able to breathe again, you can take a step back and assess what went wrong, how to prevent it from happening again (if possible), how well the solution worked (or didn’t) and remember it for next time (just in case).


Your turn

  • Please share your valuable experiences and thoughts in the comments box below.
  • What do you do to remain calm in the workplace, in the face of problems?
  • How do you approach challenging situations when you’re at work?
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Daniele Rossi is a creative director living in Toronto, Canada. He is co-founder of Stutter Social, an organization which uses Google Plus Hangouts to connect people who stutter. A natural born storyteller, Daniele enjoys producing the Stuttering is Cool podcast in his spare time along with a number of web comics. His other favourite pastimes include bodybuilding, photography and reading a good book. You can find out more about Daniele at his website: