Staying Calm amid Crisis and Storm

How to Finetune Your Communication Abilities & Emotional Fitness to Handle Tensions & Chaos Like a Pro Without Losing Your Cool, Destroying Relationships, and Burning Bridges While also Solving Problems Without Delay

“What a F*ck!!!” My colleague lost his cool. I had never heard him swear before, so I was a little surprised.

In a tweak of an eye, blood rushed from other parts of his body and flooded his face. With lowered eyebrow, thinned lips, and flared nostrils, his angry face turned toward the guy behind the counter.

Clamping his right hand tight and pointing his index finger at the guy, Joe marched forward as if to punch him in the face.

Not sure what he was about to do, I froze and stood speechless.  I didn’t know what to say or do in the heat of the moment. Things went by fast on my watch…

This was before COVID. Joe and I were attending a monthly professional association meeting.

Traditionally, we meet between 5 – 6 pm to network, and the main program starts around 6: 30 pm and ends at 8 pm.

Every month, when Joe and I see each other at these monthly meetings, we catch up and exchange info. We found these moments win-win and empowering for both of us.

This meeting wasn’t exceptional. When we saw each other that late afternoon, we began exchanging greetings. However, before we even began to catch up, Joe looked at his watch: “AZ, forgive me. I forgot to pick up my order before I came here. The printing shop closes soon…”

Joe needed to step out before 6 pm to pick up the order he had placed in the nearby printing shop.

“I’ll be right back and will catch up with you then.” Joe began walking toward the door. After walking a few steps, he stopped and casually mentioned: “AZ, if you want, we can go together and continue our conversation.” “Why not!?” I agreed and tagged along.

On the way, Joe told me that he had been using this printing shop for the past couple of years and appreciated their quality work and professionalism. He also told me why he needed the order. He has a significant event tomorrow.

When we arrived, it was around 5: 30 pm and there was a guy behind the counter.

I learned that the shop officially closes at 5 pm. But customers can collect their orders from the lobby until 6 pm.

After saying hi to the guy at the counter, he began searching for his order among other piled-up customer packages.

Once he located his order, he rushed to open and check it out.

It didn’t take long before Joe lost his cool. He marched toward the guy behind the counter while swearing in a loud and angry voice…

“What a f*ck! How do you mess it up like this? You are ruining my event!”

Later, I learned that Joe lost his cool because they printed the wrong date on all the products:

  • Poster,
  • banner,
  • program, and
  • Welcoming package.


Yes, I was a little surprised to see this side of my colleague. Nevertheless, I was stunned by the way the customer service guy reacted.

Amid the storm, he was UNCOMFORTABLY CALM. Not a good kind of clam though…

Without any motion, standing still where he was, he absorbed everything Joe threw at him.

The only thing moving was his eyes. Avoiding direct eye contact with Joe, he was staring at his computer screen except glancing at Joe two or three times.

Without displaying any meaningful EMOTION, after swallowing up Joe’s slurs, he calmly responded with a robotic voice: “Sir, sorry about that. We can give you a 25% discount when you order next time.”

Of course, I felt bad for the young man…

He either didn’t get any training or was trained by a bad customer service professional, or was mentored by an incompetent sales manager.

They must have advised him, “Don’t be emotional!” They must have instructed him to quickly offer a one-size-fits-all solution in response to all customer disappointments.

Joe didn’t take it well…

Again, using the F word, he fired back with disdain: “What a f*ck are you talking about? Are you crazy? Why would I come back again after you messed me up at the 11th hour, ruining this important event?!”

Joe was right! Why would he need a future discount?! Actually, why would he ever come back again? The issue wasn’t money; it was quality. Why would he return to a company that failed to meet an essential quality control test?

To cool things down, I interjected for the first time. I inquired the front desk guy, “Can you reach out to your manager now and ask if the work can be redone early tomorrow morning?” I thought Joe could return and pick up his package in the morning since the event was in the afternoon.

The guy was hesitant, and I didn’t blame him. He must have been worried about calling his boss after an hour.

But he mustered courage, walked away from the front desk, and called his manager. I didn’t hear their conversation, but it looked like it was tense through the glass.

Finally, he came out and conceded: “Sir, my boss agreed. We’ll rework your order and make it ready tomorrow by 11 am. Is that okay with you?” Of course, Joe agreed and took the offer, and we left.

Let me ask you:

  1. If you were Joe, how would you have handled it differently?
  2. Likewise, how would you have handled Joe if you were the front desk guy?


By the way, I don’t blame Joe for losing his cool. He is a very professional and nice person. This is the first time I saw him so angry for a justifiable reason.

However, he could have handled the situation better:

  • First, he shouldn’t have waited that close to collect his order. He wouldn’t have been stressed and freaked out if he had seen the errors a few days ago.
  • Second, he should have EXPRESSED his emotions a little INTELLIGENTLY and without losing his cool.


Remember, emotional intelligence ISN’T about DENYING what we’re FEELING within nor NUMBING our emotions. It’s unhealthy to TURN OFF our EMOTIONS altogether…

It’s healthy to express our emotions- even the heightened ones, proportionately and kindly.

The key victory you and I need is to be in charge of our emotions and determine how and when we manifest them, not the other way around. We should never allow our emotions to sit in the driver’s seat.

At the end of the day, our emotional fitness is measured based on how we regulate ours and the emotions of others.

Similarly, the front desk guy should have handled Joe better:

  • First, he should have shown EMPATHY to place himself in Joe’s place.
  • Second, rather than prescribing a cookie-cutter solution that doesn’t work for all customers, he should have TAILORED his RESPONSE specifically to Joe’s needs.
  • Third, he should have first UNDERSTOOD the ISSUE before jumping to offer a discount. He could have just said with a caring tone: “I’m sorry, Sir! I see that you’re mad. What happened?”
  • Fourth, once hearing Joe’s response, he should have ACKNOWLEDGED the MISTAKES and accepted RESPONSIBILITY. Only then, should he have focused on how to address the issue.
  • Fifth, even then, he shouldn’t be the one taking the lead to find a solution that satisfies Joe. He should have just asked him: “Sir, how can we make this right?” Joe would have suggested what I did earlier. Sadly, this customer service guy jumped to offer a cookie-cutter solution, further angering Joe.


Which one are you most of the time: Joe or the customer service guy?

Think about your latest uncomfortable conversation with someone. What happened? How did you handle it? What would you do differently if you were given another chance again?


If you are a CEO, Sales Manager, or Department Head, are you sure your leaders and customer service professionals aren’t behaving and acting like Joe and the guy behind the counter?

We’re here to help. We can coach and train your leaders and customer service professionals to deal with tough situations better and faster. We empower them to develop their all-around communication abilities and finetune emotional fitness to handle crises and chaos like a pro without losing their cool, destroying relationships, and burning bridges while solving problems swiftly and without delay. To learn more about how we can help you, reach out to [email protected]