How Would You React?

It is always better to be proactive than reactive, but let's assume the reverse. When you are put into the middle of a situation your reaction says a lot about you (or your company). I'm going to job your memory back to your early self. Chances are if you weren't the one reacting, you were trying to get a reaction out of others.

I want to use an example that many of us will remember all too well, the rest of you can live vicariously through this example. I'm speaking about having your shoes tied together by their laces. Perhaps this is a painful memory to recall (we won't judge you for slip-on or Velcro shoes).

Let's assume you've just had your shoes tied together without your knowledge. You are about to quickly become much more aware of your feet than you just were. Why is this important? It changes your focus and calls you to problem solve the situation. I'm going to cover 5 possible responses (sorry, vengeance isn't one of them).

Your Shoes Are Tied Together, Now What?

  • Keep Walking And Face Plant - I would highly advise against this first strategy. The problem with choosing this strategy is that is says you (or your company) is so tied up in your own ego, that you've thrown logic out the window. You should prepare for some tough reactions either from unpleased customers or at least a bruised ego. You need to take a minute and look at your surroundings before jumping into reaction. A quick response without thought can easily need to additional unnecessary backlash from customers (especially when social media is involved).

  • Take Tiny Steps - This approach may seem feasible at first because you don't have to stop your forward progress. However, keep in mind the longer you continue doing this you are drawing more unnecessary attention to yourself. How does this strategy look when it is being played out? It looks like you are reacting to situations in slow motion. Did your company just experience a data breach? Are the details you are sharing publicly weeks behind what you currently know? When you finally get to the end of the story your customers will be exhausted and frustrated.

  • Hop And Hop More - Hopping around is going to attract a lot of attention, so try to be ready for it. A hopping strategy really shows customers that there is a lot of miscommunication behind the scenes. This can quickly call your expertise and professionalism into question. Hopping seems erratic and may have some customers questioning whether they can trust your company to make good on promises. There is a chance that if you can put a great spin on the situation, hopping may appear to be a game (e.g. hopscotch). The potential problem with adding that spin is that customers don't like to feel they are being manipulated nor do they want to think you aren't taking a situation seriously.

  • Take Off Your Shoes - By taking off your shoes you can continue to walk forward. This approach can still cause issues. Customers may feel that you are trying to avoid the situation or hide the details. This approach shows that you are a quick thinker but it could also have you labeled as a fraud or liar. By abandoning your shoes you may feel carefree, but your customers may take that as not understanding value or an unwillingness to deal with issues.

  • Bend Over And Untie - The least you could do is assess the situation. Take time to understand the context of the situation (this helps avoid Keep Walking And Face Plant). Once you understand the problem you can solve it. Bend over and untie your shoes. Customers appreciate transparency. They also like to see that you can handle yourself in tough situations and make a good decision. This helps reinforce trust in you and your business.

Keep this metaphor in your mind when dealing with difficult situations. It isn't always easy to take a breath and look around before reacting, but it is a worthwhile endeavor. If nothing else always look down before trying to move forward, you never know who will be trying to tie your shoes together.