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Climbing Out of a Crisis

Posted at: February 1, 2012 2:10 PM
by Brian Haight

Photo by Jonathan Shiflett

John hung there, 50 feet up the side of a cliff, with one hand holding firmly onto the rock face. His other arm dangled loosely at his side. He shook his free arm as though he were performing the hokey-pokey. His legs began to jackhammer back and forth as if he were Elvis Presley. His feet were pressed firmly against two pebble-sized knobs in the cliff face. He glanced up at the next hold, which was four feet above him. He gripped onto a razor-sharp edge with his free hand and shut his eyes. John took three deep breaths, forcing his legs to cease their perilous jig, and then lunged for the hold.

Whether you’re 50 feet up hanging off the side of a cliff or in the middle of a company crisis, the tips for reaching the summit and overcoming a crisis are the same.

First tip: Don’t over-grip. People have a tendency to grip the rock super tight—affectionately known as “fear gripping” to some climbers—when they get scared. Over-gripping causes your muscles to wear out faster than normal. When climbing, you should hold on with only enough force to remain on the cliff face.

Being over-controlling in a crisis is as dangerous as over-gripping. You can’t control every single factor in a crisis, nor should you attempt to. If you try to micro-manage the process, you will end up passing out from sleep deprivation. Relax, loosen your grip and you’ll survive the crisis.

Second tip: Trust the person holding onto the rope. It’s a nerve-wracking notion that someone 50 feet below you holds your life in his or her hands. However, if you want to reach the top of a climb, you have to believe that your partner will catch you if you fall.

During a crisis it’s imperative that you trust your team members. A major crisis isn’t solved by a single person, but by a united effort. You have to trust that your teammates will be able to fulfill their roles, accordingly. Remember it’s not a one-man job, so delegate responsibilities.

Third tip: Deep breaths. This one sounds silly but it works. During a climb, people will occasionally freak out and cause their heart to become the Talladega 500. A panic attack 50 feet up is never a good thing. If you ever start to panic during a climb, close your eyes and take some deep breaths. This causes your heart to slow down and forces oxygen to your muscles, which rejuvenates them.

During a crisis there can be moments where you want to panic. However, it’s important to remain calm at all times, especially during a media event. If you ever feel that unbearable need to panic, close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths and calm down.

When you find yourself in a crisis situation, remember don’t over-grip, trust the person holding the rope and take some deep breaths. These tips should help public relations professionals to climb out of any crisis.

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