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3 Ways to Helpfully Handle a Crisis

July 6, 2021

Whether you like it or not, you will inevitably face crises in your business or personal life. It may be as simple as a bad review on Google Places or Yelp or as severe as abuse allegations. How you respond can make a huge difference in bringing resolution to those impacted inside and outside your organization and life. 

Here are three ways you can helpfully handle a crisis:

Acknowledge the Problem

There isn’t a crisis without a problem. That problem has to be acknowledged if you can help bring resolution. Perhaps this sounds completely obvious, but it is forgotten so often it bears repeating; you must completely recognize the concerns. 

Mirroring is an excellent tool in these circumstances. You want the parties with the problem to feel your recognition of the problem. If you don’t think there is a genuine issue, put yourself in their shoes and find at least a hint of real empathy for their story. 

Platitudes and trite responses won’t cut it. Acknowledge the problem and mean it. Nothing short of this will set a foundation where the offended can be satisfied.

Fully Own Your Part of It

Owning your part of it slightly different than acknowledging the problem; acknowledgment says, “I recognize you have an issue,” and owning it says, “I know this is what part I played in that issue.”

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Here is a critical point: you will probably not agree with the grievant about your role. But that doesn’t mean you can’t own your part. 

Listening in this stage is critical. If you are open to taking the maximum amount of responsibility, that will be felt and help a resolution come to life. You do not need to point fingers or educate the other side on their role in the drama. If you want to share the responsibility with the offended party, the best move you can make is to own your part fully; often, the other side will offer their concessions in the face of humble transparency. 

Uncover What the Win Is

Plain and simple, you need to know what the other side wants from the situation. It may feel obvious, but it isn’t always so. There is nothing wrong with asking how you can help bring resolution in the eyes of the grievant. If what they want is possible, you have a clear roadmap to improving the situation. If what they want isn’t possible, you can at least talk openly about the actual possibilities. 

At the core, expectations drive all of our interactions. Getting those expectations out in the open will help everyone involved have clarity. You may find the offended party doesn’t even know what they want. By asking, you are bringing them closer to a resolution too. 

Crises are unavoidable in our lives, but you can help guide the process toward wholeness by starting with these three steps. A great side-effect of working toward resolution is that your reputation is improved instead of damaged. However, I encourage you not to work toward a solution merely to protect your reputation or business, but because it is the right thing to do when people are hurt.