When I was working in consulting I often observed that as soon as unexpected situations happened people started to get upset or react in panick. For example when a client expressed that she was really unhappy with a project or even got angry, many team members (no matter how long they have been in business) reacted nervously and sometimes hastily without thinking, because they wanted to get out of this difficult situation as quickly as possible. People hated it when situations escalated. Even though they would say that they love to be challenged in their jobs, they disliked tough conversations, negotiations, and arguments. That includes myself.
One of my colleagues managed to stay surprisingly calm during these difficult situations. We once got to talk about this and his explanation really resonated with me:
“I am a gamer.”
In games you never want to be in you comfort zone. There’s always difficult situations. This is how the game works. Otherwise you’d let the game go quickly. He has been gaming a lot for years and years. I think this is what gave him “the gamer’s advantage”.
Instead of reacting “OMG, what shall I do” in difficult situations, his first thought was rather “Oh! Interesting!”, followed by observing what exactly happened in this situation. In games there’s a limited number of difficult situations – you are attacked by a new enemy, you are running out of resources, you get injured, etc. You also have a number of tools and resources that you can use to overcome these situations. I like, how this way of thinking changes the perception of difficult situations: Think about difficult real-life situations as games. Observe what is happening instead of panicking and reacting too fast. Look at the tools you have and think how you can use them to solve this challenge. Ask yourself: if this was a situation in a game – how would you design the solution? Sounds trivial, but this thinking made quite a difference for myself.