So you have an incredibly busy week ahead, full of important meetings and exciting projects.  Then the bomb drops.  One of your close friends has a heart attack and dies. You’re in shock, and all the things that seemed important before the week started, no longer seem significant.  You fall into a deep sadness.

In the meantime, you temporarily disconnect from work.  You’ll let your clients and team members know what’s going on when the dust settles, and if they are good human beings, with an ounce of empathy, they’ll give you a pass.  You need to get through the grieving process first.

If this all makes sense to you, you are in danger of committing career suicide. Rising in the business world requires a high level of dependability.  People that can’t be depended on don’t land the big deals, don’t get promoted, and don’t attract money from investors and lenders. They don’t enjoy all the advantages of their dependable peers, and often wonder why.

Tragedies and emergencies are a part of EVERYONE’S life, whether it’s a death, an illness, a break-up, a car accident, hospitalization of a pet, or any other extraordinary event. Successful people manage through these situations in a very specific and consistent way:

  1. Communicate immediately to team members what’s going on
  2. Reschedule all internal and external meetings, or have a team member do it for them
  3. Communicate clearly to all concerned when they will be back “in the saddle”

In How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie said that we build trust by “honestly seeing things from the other person’s point of view.”  If we practice this principle, we wouldn’t leave others hanging who depend on us.

These steps are common business courtesy, and send a message to our colleagues and clients that they can depend on us, even in a crisis.

Download Dale Carnegie’s latest white paper on “Recognizing Leadership Blind Spots.”


Posted by Ryan M. Akins

Investor, Entrepreneur, Listener and Learner. Ryan currently serves as Regional President of Dale Carnegie for the North Texas region. He graduated from The Dale Carnegie Course in 2011.

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