Friday, September 24, 2010

A waiting room is a great place to read interesting articles. Of course, some of the magazines are five years old and when you turn to page 134 to finish the article, someone may have torn the coupon out on page 135 leaving you wondering what the 5th point was.

I read an intriguing article while waiting recently; Things To Never Say In A Job Interview. The author discussed the importance of not going on and on about how much of a people person you are and that bad grammar makes you look dumb even though you may have a Masters degree. She also emphasized can’t and impossible shouldn’t be in your vocabulary. What fascinated me most was her reasoning why a job applicant should never use the word crisis.

Evidently touting the ability to respond calmly and intelligently is commonplace during an interview. The problem arises when applicants use the word crisis to describe what, in reality, is just a challenge. It can make the interviewer wonder if they are alarmists. The best terms to use are problem or challenge.

When I thought about it, problems have solutions and challenges can be overcome, but a crisis is just bad. Most people run around like their hair is on fire during a crisis and to be able to respond calmly is admirable. But in an office, I suppose it’s important to know what a possible employee considers a crisis.

A fax machine jamming when important papers are being sent, not hitting a quarterly projection, and missing the 4 o’clock mail deadline, though important, are not crises. A hostage standoff, floodwaters rising, and an AIDS epidemic are each a crisis.

The majority of what we face every day is not critical even though we react like it’s life threatening. In 1970 when a small explosion happened on Apollo 13, one of the astronauts radioed, “Houston, we have a problem.” If he responded calmly to that, why can’t I when pancake syrup boils over on the stove. It’s not even a problem, it’s just a mess.

So unless my life is flashing in front of my eyes, I want to remember; it’s just a problem and problems have solutions.

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