5 Counter-Intuitive Responses to Painful Situations

Some people anticipate future difficulties and run away. Leaders anticipate painful situations and move forward.

The advantage to anticipating painful situations is developing prepared responses.

Self-justification prolongs painful situations. Image of a hornet.

5 Counter-intuitive responses to painful situations:

  1. Open up; don’t close down.
  2. Reach out; don’t pull back.
  3. Stay curious; don’t rush to answer or solve.
  4. Connect; don’t build silos.
  5. Pursue growth; don’t defend.

2 essential responses to painful situations:

#1. Reject excuse-making.

Excuse-makers justify themselves. Politicians excel at blaming the other party or previous administrations.

“Reasons help the injured party feel better, and excuses help the culprit feel better.” Washington Post

10 dissatisfying excuses:

  1. I didn’t have time.
  2. I didn’t know how.
  3. I was waiting for….
  4. I was afraid….
  5. The team let me down.
  6. I was worried….
  7. I didn’t get enough help.
  8. I didn’t want to bother you.
  9. I knew it wouldn’t work.
  10. I forgot.

Self-justification prolongs tough situations.

#2. Prepare responses.

Stress goes down when you develop responses before you need them.

What will you do when an angry person confronts you? Pull a prepared response out of your hip pocket.

Example #1:

I know what I’m going to do when an angry person confronts me before it happens.

  1. Step back, not forward. Give them physical space.
  2. Acknowledge the pain. Don’t quickly solve or minimize.
  3. Stay curious. Listen and ask, “What do you want?”
  4. Be prepared for repetition. Angry people know what they don’t want.
  5. Return to, “What do you want?”
Defensiveness congeals the past. Image of a construction worker pouring concrete.

Example #2:

I know I’m going to say, “Thanks for bringing that up,” when someone challenges something I say.

Gratitude helps you open up and connect. Defensiveness congeals the past.

People who close their eyes to painful situations live in circles. The way to practice forward-facing leadership is to leverage painful situations for advantage.

What useful responses to tough situations can you add?

Which of the above suggestions resonate with you?

Still curious:

How No-Nonsense Leaders Succeed with Conversations

3 Ways to Navigate Tough Times