Every office should have an optimist, someone who, with reason and a level head, gives all parties the benefit of the doubt and leads the team in seeking a solution. Letting anger take over or speaking negatively is easy when stress levels are high. When a project is delayed or bumps in the road create discontent—with colleagues or clients—it’s important to consider the situation from all perspectives before reacting. Here’s how to be that optimistic voice and get to a solution faster when a project doesn’t happen as expected.
- Don’t point fingers. Finding out who is at fault shouldn’t take precedence over finding a solution. If someone made an egregious error, it’s up to that person’s supervisor to address the situation privately, not in a reply-all. If you know specifically what happened, bring it up in a new thread with only those involved, or preferably over the phone or in person.
- Present just the facts. Unless an issue from three months ago directly led to today’s problem, don’t mention it. Especially when addressing the situation with a client, explain specifically what the problem is and discuss the proposed solution.
- Offer a solution. Don’t stir the pot by speculating about what went wrong if you don’t have an idea of how to fix it. If a solution isn’t immediately available and the situation is getting heated, be the one to suggest everyone step away and come back after an opportunity to cool down. Leave the door open for others to offer their solutions as well. The best answer may come out of a calm brainstorm.
- Don’t gloss over it. While the situation may not seem dire to you or affect your job specifically, it may greatly impact someone else on your team or your client. Brushing off the situation as unimportant or “not your problem” could create more tension. Be empathetic to your colleagues’ and clients’ challenges, and offer a solution if you are directly asked to participate.
- Be realistic. While optimism is an important quality to bring to the table, issues should be dealt with seriously and professionally. Optimism doesn’t mean telling a joke to ease the tension; it means having the expectation that your team can work together to find the solution.
Remaining positive and being a voice of reason isn’t always the easiest role to play. But every team benefits from having at least one person who can be counted on to have a positive attitude and confidence in their other team members.