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Can you describe a very distressing situation in which you remained calm and collected?

I am passionate about my work, I am ambitious and driven, I am highly organized, I'm a people-person. #real-estate #finance

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Jonathan’s Answer

I had just taken a job I didn’t want at a law firm that had a brutal culture. I was assigned to be an associate for a partner that was a flat slob that lacked any real ability or distinguishing accomplishment. All the partners thought they were great. The firm was cheap and in one of the worst buildings in downtown Miami. No associate was happy snd all of us lived in fear of the partnership. Needless to say, I got fired. On my way out, that partner questioned my ability saying I needed to go somewhere less sophisticated because I couldn’t handle the work there. I was a Law Teview, top law law grad, had worked in the best bankruptcy firm in the world, and always excelled in education. I just laughed to myself as I walked out head held high.
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Andrea’s Answer

I had a very stressful situation in March of 2020 when the stock market was extremely volatile due to the emergence of covid-19. Many clients were nervous and upset about the situation. The most important response was to stay calm, and help calm them down too. One helpful tip was to take some time to respond to emails or voicemails so that a more controlled and meaningful response could be delivered. Additionally, communicating expectations was key to a positive resolution. Helping clients understand what to expect and when to expect it helped to calm them down and feel more confident in our service we were providing.
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Ben’s Answer

I started my career on an IT help desk so I would take calls from customers who were having problems with their computer and I would walk them through how to solve the problem over the phone. So as you could imagine, none of the customers who called in were ever in a good mood to begin with but the majority were polite and cordial. However, there was one instance where the customer began yelling at me because he said he was just on the call with another rep and got disconnected. In addition to that, he claimed that he has the same problem for weeks and the company is not solving it for him.

We were instructed from our Managers that if a customer used profanity or threatening language we could hang up and not accept that abuse, but in this case the customer wasn't doing either. The way I handled it was by focusing on 2 things. First, I put myself in the customer shoe's and said to myself that I would feel the same way if I had unresolved issue and was just disconnected a few minutes earlier. The second thing I focused on was that I reminded myself that this customer does not know me personally. He is taking out his frustrations on the company, not me.

Once I was able to keep my own composure, I took steps to help the customer calm down. One of the things I had learned in that role is that no one likes to be bounced around from person to person or department to department. So the first thing I told the customer was that I was going to take ownership of the situation and make sure it got handled from that point. There was an instant change in his attitude and we were able to proceed from there and get his issue resolved.

I think the thing to always remember is to keep your composure and take the high road in the tense situations. In the work environment, the people who are yelling and screaming are looked upon as someone who cant take the pressure or as someone who has lost control. By remaining composed, you are the one who is looked at as being calm, cool and collected.
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Frank’s Answer

Distressing situations are bound to happen to everyone at some point in their careers, that's the nature of life at times. I've learned to not be too surprised when facing a tough situation. One of the most potentially distressing times in my career was getting laid off from my job of 13 1/2 years in the years following the subprime crisis of 2008. I had avoided being dismissed with previous layoffs at the company but a few years later the decision was made to eliminate my position after a corporate merger. I did have a premonition that future events might lead to layoffs. Rather than fear the future, I saw this change as a new adventure. Without tough situations one would never develop strength. Exercise depends on resistance and perseverance to develop strength. Any sport that doesn't involve resistance, opposition, or challenge, is probably not a sport worth watching or playing. The same can be said for any movie we watch. Joy and satisfaction come with overcoming and persevering through a challenge.

Today I work for a large global insurance company. The insurance business is not an industry I had considered previously. I didn't know the many career paths available in this business. I love my work and enjoy the challenges it affords me along with better benefits than my previous company. I am also in a better financial situation than before. Because of a tough situation, a door opened to a new opportunity I would not have discovered otherwise. Instead of running from tough situations that come into my life, I've learned to face them head on and look for the good that can come from overcoming them. Though I can't prepare for every stressful situation that comes into my life I can develop strong foundations that will get me through. Every day, in good times or bad, we can all become a better, stronger people. Look for those opportunities!

Frank recommends the following next steps:

Don't fear. Remember, distressing situations are bound to happen at some point in our lives. Be prepared before it happens.
Financially, it's wise to have at least 3-6 months of income saved for unexpected emergencies.
Keep your work contacts and resume up to date so they are ready when needed.
Surround yourself with a strong group of people that can you see you though tough times. Two are better than one.
View every challenge as a new adventure. Exciting things await us when we look for and expect good things in every situation.
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Craig’s Answer

I would say an example of this that I have experienced a couple times in my career is times when you have to be in a leadership position, possibly presenting in front of many people who are looking to you for knowledge and expertise on a given topic - and you have just received significant personal news that can easily distract you from your work focus. I remember receiving news on a death in my family literally just minutes before a huge presentation. What I learned from that situation is to take a moment to breathe and compose yourself and do your best to compartmentalize so you can place your grief, is possible, on the side-burner and know that you'll come back to that - once your immediate need (i.e. presentation and work focus) is completed.

In those situations, I found it actually helps to cope with the distraction and grief by placing focus elsewhere and keeping composure.

These situations are common and can easily be positive personal news as well. However, the approach I have take has been the same.
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Jenna’s Answer

What's distressing to one person may not be to another. I work in a field where there is a lot of conflict, so very often emails and phone calls are tense and full of conflict. I had a call this week where the person on the phone was actually yelling at me, and my client, and he was the one who made the mistake. He wasn't going to listen to reason, so we waited until he ran out of things to say, then I picked up the conversation where it was before he started yelling.

When I am in a tense situation, I remind myself of a few things: 1) No one is going to lose life, liberty or limb, so keep the situation in perspective; 2) People can't argue if you don't disagree with them. If someone is yelling, or trying to argue, the best thing to do is not to respond- to be silent, or to say something like "I see" or "okay" or "oh really?" Eventually, they will stop yelling or stop arguing, and you can direct the conversation back to the topic under discussion, and 3) you can control your actions, not those of other people, so if you choose to remain calm and collected, then you can do so.

It takes practice and patience, but these reminders have been very helpful in creating more productive conversations in tense situations.
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Brandon’s Answer

I was working at my local library and I answered a phone call from a woman asking about one of her returned items. Due to the policy of the library, we do not keep the records to the items returned. According to her she had returned her children's books that had important information, something like social security paperwork or something along those lines. So when I told her that we couldn't look it up unless she told us the books title or the time she returned them, we couldn't do anything. She started to swear at ME, acting like it was my fault. I was really agitated during that time, but kept a cool calm demeanor. So I went to go get the supervisor and she dealt with the problem.

What I WASN'T expecting was the woman going up to the front desk and causing a commotion while I was still on my shift. She started screaming at the front desk while I was organizing/shelving books in the children's section. I felt really uncomfortable because she was in a rage while I was just watching from afar. I did nothing wrong. I followed the rules and guidelines of the job and did not do anything to anger the patron or cause and problems myself.
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