I Know What I Saw: What to Do When the Situation Goes from Humdrum to Haywire

This past week I sat in on a meeting that – initially—seemed like it was going to be a cakewalk. There were no situations to discuss, no dilemmas to consider. Everyone seemed to be very collegial. All was likely to be easy.

Imagine the collective surprise of the group, then, when one member—within 10 minutes of sitting down—suddenly sprang out of his chair and announced, “That’s it. I’m leaving!” After which he snatched up papers and computer and stormed out, leaving those of us who remained in varying states of shock, surprise, upset.

As you can imagine, the speculation began immediately. “What happened?” “What did I say?” “Was it because of X? Y? Z?”

Only one person sat without speaking. Once we’d exhausted our collective yickety yak we turned to him, “Do you know what just happened??”

“Well,” he said, “I know what I saw. Mr. X got up and left the room. I think we should move on.”


Despite the fact that my internal Nancy Drew was longing to peruse the inner machinations of Mr. X’s temper tantrum I was blown away by Mr. Calm Cool and Collected’s ability to stay away from speculating/hypothesizing. While this is something I am intensely aware of when I prepare clients to answer questions during ‘crisis’ situations it is something I forgot completely when the situation went from humdrum to haywire in 60 seconds flat.

It’s something I long to be cool enough to do in the future.

On the off chance you might also be impressed—and like to emulate it, too—I share it with you.

Frances Cole Jones