So, you had some urgent work come up at the office. Here are some things to remember before you face down whatever emergency has come your way.
1. It’s OK to feel frightened.
Feel the stress. Your fight/flight response exists for a reason. Let it activate and help you respond. Use the adrenaline, and don’t pretend like this is normal. This, ironically, is the best way to handle workplace emergencies in the coolest, most competent way possible.
2. Don’t unload your stress.
Don’t use your coworkers as stress release valves. Don’t act with any hint of helplessness. Don’t use stress to gain pity or help. This is a fantastic way to take yourself out of the driver’s seat, lose social capital, and lose respect (and self-respect).
3. Don’t complain, don’t explain.
If this is a true emergency, you don’t have time to complain or to analyze what went wrong. You must act. Analyze later. Never complain. It does nothing for you.
4. There’s a difference between fast and frantic.
There are very few emergencies in a workplace which will require you to do five different things within 10 minutes. There even fewer which will require you to do five different things right now.
You need to be fast to respond, but you don’t need to be running around frantically. Be here. Do what’s in front of you. Take a breath and a quick walk to gain your center if you need to. You’ll get things done faster from a place of calm than from a place of panic.
5. Just ship it.
Odds are, you already know the (temporary or permanent) solution to this emergency. You don’t have time to make it perfect. Do the thing that will go 80% of the way toward solving the problem. Worry about the rest later. Doing the minimum viable solution may not fully resolve an emergency, but it will head off further damage and give you the momentum to deliver the coup de grace to the fundamental problem in your next move.
Hang in there, mate.
Bonus #6: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietszhe