Sometimes life seems like one crisis after another. Think of the phrases we commonly use when we are under stress: spinning out of control; falling to pieces; in over my head.
Most of the problems we have to deal with on a daily basis are not actual crises. They may cause some stress, but a real crisis goes beyond that. By definition, a crisis is an upset in steady state or homeostasis. During a crisis, a person’s usual coping mechanisms fail. In fact, they don’t even know how to think about the problem, much less solve it.
Many times, our problems create more problems. A good example, is telling a small lie. The untruth may temporarily solve one problem, but one lie often requires another..and another. The hole we are digging just gets deeper and deeper.
When you see a negative chain of events starting, stop and take stock. This is just as critical at your workplace as in other areas of your life.
If you make an error, don’t try to cover it up. That almost never works. Instead, admit the error and provide a plan for how you will fix it. If you are going to miss a deadline, let your boss know about it as soon as possible.
Never misuse funds or falsify a report. Don’t knowingly violate the gift policy by accepting a perk from a vendor. Never breach confidentiality or access files for which you have no clearance or right to see.
A real crisis could occur if you are fired “for cause.” You could—in fact, probably will—be escorted out of the building immediately. There generally is no severance pay if you are fired, and you are paid only through your last day. The bonus you were hoping for the following month is gone. Your health insurance coverage ends at the end of the month (unless you can afford the COBRA payment). And your boss does not have to provide a letter of reference. Finding a new job is hard. Finding a new job if you have been fired “for cause” is much, much harder.
Many crises occur suddenly and can’t be avoided. Many others, however, are self-manufactured. Be certain you aren’t the cause of your own crisis.