In an ideal world, every business situation would run perfectly and smoothly. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case—and when things go wrong, emotions can sometimes get the best of us.
When tensions run high, it’s important to keep your composure and remain as professional as possible so you don’t disrupt the work environment and business relationships. To help highlight what works, members of Young Entrepreneur Council, below, share their strategies for handling tense moments without losing your cool.
Most tense moments can be better handled if we stop to catch our breath before taking action. It only takes a minute, and there are many techniques from apps such as Breathe on the Apple Watch to more disciplined practices such as Box-Breathing used by Navy SEALs. I encourage my team to take a moment to breathe, and sometimes ask to breathe with them before we move forward. – Jordan Gurrieri, Blue Label Labs
2. Be Direct And Factual
When tense moments and challenges arise it is always best to approach any discussion about the situation from a non-emotional standpoint. The best leaders and managers know how to keep their cool in very challenging situations. Getting mad or emotional will only make matters worse and often causes more harm than good. Use these tough situations as opportunities to coach, guide and teach your team. – Reb Risty, REBL Marketing
3. Take A Moment To Compose Yourself
If it takes longer than a moment, that is OK, too. Responding versus reacting is key. Sometimes emotions can cloud judgment when making decisions, so being in the right mindset is imperative. Visualize positive outcomes, then think about the possible paths to get there. Walk through all the possible worst-case scenarios, and you might just realize they are all not too big to overcome. – Jessica Baker, Aligned Signs
4. Train Yourself In Lucid Thinking
If you’ve ever experienced a lucid dream, you know it’s an incredible sensation of clarity and control in an otherwise chaotic realm. A tense situation can leave one scrambled, shutting down executive reasoning, leaving one unable to control the fires of our emotions and think clearly. Actively train over time like a boxer to gain control of intense emotions by telling yourself to relax. – Odin Liam Wright, TRUE
5. Look At The Situation Objectively
I’ve found it’s almost always best to sit back and examine the situation from afar, whether it’s a tense situation or major conflict. Putting yourself in others’ shoes helps and may even lead to a sale or resolution of the conflict. This may mean “sleeping on it,” or literally saying “I can’t give you my thoughts on this right now, give me a few minutes to think about it and get back to you”—and then setting a time and sticking to it. Using the alone time to ponder the situation and think of solutions really helps, especially if you’re doing something totally unrelated. Taking the time to analyze the situation, rather than speaking your mind right away, works wonders and is something peers are likely to respect you for. – Matthew Gibson, Flewid Inc.
6. Ask Yourself If You Should Pursue The Opportunity Further
If you’re concerned about losing your cool with a client, I strongly encourage you to pause and think about whether you should pursue the opportunity further. Sometimes we have to fire clients because we can’t make them happy, not because of performance but because of boundaries that our business chooses to uphold. With that in mind, if this is an opportunity worth pursuing, then the client likely feels a desire to break the tension as well. In which case, set up next steps for a follow-up meeting and what each party needs to consider or come back with. Get out and come back to it later. The goal should always be to move forward together or else you may need to save resources for the next opportunity. – Ryan Meghdies, Tastic Marketing Inc.
7. Practice Empathy
Emotional contagion is very real in upsetting situations, but instead of getting defensive, one can usually bring empathy to the situation. By allowing others to vent, you can gracefully move to a more powerful place of listening. This allows you to gain access to key facts, postulations and limitations at play—all of which are important information for bridging the gap between both parties. – Zahra Timsah, AMCL
8. Create And Follow A Conflict Resolution Process
If tense moments do not happen, the companies are likely not growing or innovating fast enough. We grew from zero to 50 people in under three years, and during this journey we had many difficult conversations with clients where maintaining a professionalism, positivity and openness has helped us to address problems while remaining cool and productive. We also started paying more attention to things like attitude towards results and a positive view on life rather than experience when we hire people. From my side, I also feel it’s very important to facilitate a system with checklists and conflict resolution processes where everyone can find help and remain cool while addressing issues in the most productive way. – Vlad Goloshuk, BrightestMinds
9. Evaluate And Reframe The Situation
As an entrepreneur, you’ll often be faced with tense moments. The only thing you can control is your reaction to a situation. Just like a stuntman, taking appropriate steps during tense moments will ensure that you’ll land on your feet. First, slow down and evaluate the situation: What’s actually at stake? If the threat is insignificant, it might be best to diffuse the situation. Second, reframe the conversation: Approach the problem from a different angle and focus on what’s best for all parties involved, and then authentically adapt that message to your audience. Finally, complement your teamwork: Make sure to outline why this tense discussion was beneficial, and how it can be used as a foundation for growth. If handled correctly, a tense situation can build trust and deepen relationships. – Anna Anisin, Formulatedby
10. Have A Backup Plan Ready To Go
You always have to keep a clear mindset and be prepared for these instances. Most people go for the quickest and most self-damaging solutions to get a quick change. My advice is to prepare for these moments beforehand, always have a backup plan, and when these instances arise try to execute your plan calmly and relaxed. – Jose Magana, Yellowberry Hub