The Eagle Blog

Dealing with Issues

There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with “situations” …

If there is a perceived problem then it is important to take full stock BEFORE acting, or reacting.

In a business situation the right answer is to ask enough questions to understand ALL of the factors relating to the problem … before acting.

Of course, in an emergency situation you may be forced to act quickly … but those actions should be confined to containing the problem, ensuring it is not getting worse and if any danger exists then it should be negated.  Those actions should NOT include angry outbursts, leaping to conclusions about blame and allowing emotions to “let loose”. 

The right way would be …

1.  Assess the situation … understand what has happened, why it happened, all of the factors related to the issue.

2.  Fix the situation … employing best practices to make sure the problem is fixed and unlikely to happen again.

3.  Learn from the situation … understand how it could be avoided in the future, mitigate risks and apply any other lessons coming from the situation.

4.  Assess who was involved and only then seek to understand if negligence or blame should be attached, or if training or process changes might be required.

The calm approach to any problem will give the best results … this is why you will see disaster response personnel training for such situations.   The last thing you need is some idiot “losing it”, ranting and raving, blaming the world and getting in the way of progress!

In the business world it is not just important to contain emotions, and act rationally and professionally … it is expected.  The easy way to lose “status” is to lose your temper.  We probably all know bosses, former bosses etc who were “tyrants” … there is no place for it in the modern work place.  If anything, the person at the top needs to set the example and that kind of abuse should not be tolerated.

Every now and then I see this kind of behaviour and it tells me a lot about that person … they are not people I want to associate with, and if they are people who want to progress in their careers then they have some serious lessons to learn.

Lessons to take away …

Don’t leap to conclusions!

Always treat people with respect!

Act calmly and rationally … and learn from life’s little challenges, and you will be a better person. 


Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!


2 thoughts on “Dealing with Issues

  1. Unfortunately, the “right way” is not always black and white. Most people would agree that hitting someone without cause is wrong. Far fewer people believe that hitting an aggressor in defence of an innocent is wrong…

    What am I getting at with the boxing talk? There are no strong, universal constants. In other words there is no rule that is right all of the time. No rule you can apply to every situation. (How’s that for a rule?)

    I don’t think many would disagree that understanding a situation before reacting is common sense. It might be worth considering whether or not expressing emotion in your (hopefully-well-considered) reaction can be appropriate, suitable, or even effective. If we don’t think so, can we ever express moral outrage when people’s safety, property, or livelihoods are threatened? Most people would agree that moral outrage in some situations is acceptable, even desirable. What if the calm people react so lackadaisically to a problem that they jeopardize the safety of others?

    So, in this case, I’d say that what we’re talking about is less a “right way” than it is a valuable heuristic. In computer science, and in many other fields like law, we depend on heuristics to help us solve most problems, mostly correctly, in reasonably quick time. But heuristics aren’t laws, and they can –quite regularly unfortunately– lead us astray. Because when they don’t work; they just plain don’t work.

    In general, nine times out of ten, you’re going to get a better result with reason. A carrot is better than a stick. Nine times out of ten…

    In general, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people will think more highly of you if you don’t let your temper lose. A calm sea brings home more boats than an angry one. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred…

    Speaking to the value of reason, some people simply won’t respond to it. We like to presume that human beings are rational creatures, especially if we perceive ourselves as rational creatures. But we’re lying to ourselves with that presumption, because we aren’t rational –and neither is anyone else. And there’s a lot of good evidence, both scientific and common sense, that testifies to the fact. Just stopping for a moment, wherever you happen to be, and looking around is often enough!

    The disapprobation of others is one of the most consistent and successful motivators for encouraging ethical behaviour in a tribe or group of individuals. If someone does something wrong, showing anger can be a reasonable way to attempt to correct their behaviour –because it works, and some people simply don’t care enough to be reasoned with. You can’t reason someone out of something they didn’t reason themselves into.

    Everyone responds to emotion. Period. If you can’t reach someone with reason, it can be worth trying with emotion. In fact, some people won’t respond to anything else. Sometimes a stick in the mud may need a little kick. And anger can be just another tool in the shed –although I think most people will agree it should be the last one you reach for.

    Steve Jobs is perhaps the most immediately relevant, popular example of the utility of anger. Here was a man with a legendary temper, an “idiot”, perhaps, according to the “right way” above… But he certainly cared about what he felt was right and he made sure that other people knew it. I know some Irish people with good tempers, so I’ll steal a little Irish wisdom from Sean O’Casey: “it’s my rule never to lose my temper till it would be detrimental to keep it.”

    Speaking to the value of other people’s opinions of you, a person’s opinion of you should never be worth more to you than the man that holds it.

    Most of us would agree that the good will of an unethical person generally isn’t worth the price.

    In this vein, moral outrage has it’s place. And it’s price as your post above illustrates. You can look “unprofessional”, but you can still be right, and you can still make the world a better place in an important way –or maybe just a little way– when you show anger in the face of unwarranted harm, or reckless inaction. In fact, the history of the world is full of preventable tragedies that have been watched by calm and reasonable men, tiny ones and terrible ones.

    What can we take away from the balance of this debate? Maybe that judgement as to how to proceed is more important than anything else, and that it often comes down to a very tactical, gut decision –is your passion useful here; or will it get in the way? If you temper the application of your gut instincts with the knowledge that it’s pretty unlikely you’ll pick the right side from the start in every disagreement you confront, you can be prepared to change your mind about how you should proceed. Sometimes that’s the only way to stop the “right way” from leading right into a dead end…

  2. The world is definitely not black and white. However … some things are:

    1. Don’t jump to conclusions.
    2. Always treat people with respect.

    I will give you the third one … because you should always act calmly and rationally until you can’t …

    PS. Just because Steve Jobs enjoyed great business success does not mean he is someone to emulate in all of his imperfections.

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