I have a ten-year-old daughter. Some mornings my sweet, responsible child has what I would call an emotional hiccup. There is nothing to eat, nothing to wear, (insert fire here), the world is ending, you get the idea. My response is usually the same. We have (insert what you can’t find here), keep looking and everything will be fine, and then it is.
Now, let’s consider another scenario. A client calls and they are unhappy. They didn’t quite understand something you last spoke about, think you have dropped the ball and are upset. They have the emotional hiccups. How do you respond? Do you drop everything you are doing and hop on a two hour, “let’s calm down and take a deep breath” phone call? What could dropping everything mean at this moment and what could you lose?
My first question in dealing with a child, client, vendor, employee, friend or anyone having an emotional hiccup is this: is the fire real? It’s real to them, but does it exist in the real world? A problem is not a fire needing immediate attention just because a child or client says so. A problem becomes a fire when it is critical to long term success.
My goal is to respond to real fires; the emotional ones tend to burn themselves out anyway.