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  • Writer's pictureThrive Inc.

Dealing with Times of Crisis

You’re probably struggling with the current climate of the coronavirus, and we have been too. All of us have been impacted in some way, and there’s a lot of uncertainty around our health and our businesses. As humans, we don’t deal well with uncertainty, just like when we experience conflict, and so we need to figure out a way to cope, and we’re here today to offer some simple tips and tricks on how you can stay out of a state of panic.

Feeling uncomfortable when we experience uncertainty, especially when we feel like our health and money might be threatened, is inevitable. What you can do, however, is to pay attention to your thoughts to bring yourself some peace and serenity during this challenging time. Letting your fear and panic surface and stay in an elevated state leaves you blind to opportunities and a solution-focused mindset, so it’s important to find ways to settle your thoughts.

Join us this week as we share some things that you can do to deal with your fear responses, and ways that you can handle your relationships, both at work and at home, in changing times. Having connection and contact is crucial to not only your business running as usual, but to your wellbeing too, so we hope our tips give you some insight on how you can create an environment that works for you.

If you enjoyed the show, please share the podcast with your family and friends, or post a five-star review on iTunes. Rating and reviewing the show helps spread the word, which means less friction and suffering for everyone, and who doesn’t want that?

Learn More:

  • How we’ve shifted the way we coach and work in our business at this time.

  • What you can do to deal with your fear responses and handle your relationships, both at work and at home.

  • How to actually manage your business during this changing time.

  • What happens in your brain when you get scared or are panicking.

  • Why it’s important to pay attention to your thoughts.

  • How you can still create structure in your day to give yourself a sense of purpose.

Full Transcript:

CrisMarie Campbell: Welcome to The Beauty of Conflict, a podcast about how to deal with conflict at work, at home and everywhere else in your life. Hi, I'm CrisMarie.

Susan Clarke: And I'm Susan. We run a company called Thrive, and we specialize in conflict resolution, communication and building strong, thriving teams and relationships. Conflict shows up in our lives in so many ways. Most people, unfortunately, are not very good at handling conflict. Most people have never been taught the right tools for dealing with conflict, and then it leads to unnecessary friction, arguments, passive aggressive emails, tears, hurtful comments, stuck-ness, all kinds of things we don't want. We're on a mission to change all of that.

CrisMarie Campbell: We've spent the last 20 years teaching our clients how to handle conflict in a whole new way. We're here to show you that conflict doesn't have to be scary and overwhelming. With the right tools, you can turn a moment of conflict into a moment of reinvention. Conflict can pave the way into a beautiful new system at work, a new way of leading your team, a new way of parenting, a new chapter of your marriage where you feel more connected than ever before. Conflict can lead to beautiful things.

Hi, there. This episode is actually for you because you're probably struggling with the current context of the coronavirus. I know that we have been coaching all week and working with teams to help support them through this time, and there is a lot of uncertainty around our health and our money, which really drives some wonky behavior. Let's just be clear.

We are not comfortable when our health or our money are threatened, which makes perfect sense. So, we really want to give you some support to how to get through this crisis changing time because it is uncertain. As humans, when we hit uncertainty, just like conflict, we really don't cope very well. We cope in the ways that we've done before. We like to take charge and make things happen, and we can't. We don't know what's going to happen. So, how do you deal with these uncertain times?

Susan Clarke: We realized, even for ourselves, when all of this unfolded, a lot of the things we'd been focused on and planning to do suddenly were canceled. We had had speaking opportunities going into various situations working with teams. Our coaching continues, and we can do some of the teamwork online, but we really realized, “Oh, our business is shifting.”

So, one of the things we did when we really realized we were going to be quarantined was we started working on our book, The Beauty of Conflict Within. Really, that has a lot to do with this whole concept of how to deal with a crisis point.

CrisMarie Campbell: We also shifted and started supporting people online. We've been doing Facebook lives each business day and LinkedIn. We've been posting videos to give people support because most people are at home, and so they have some flexibility with their time and can watch our five-minute video and maybe shift their day.

Susan Clarke: We wanted to start off by, again, talking about things from the standpoint of that when a crisis occurs, that's kind of like new information is out there in your system, and you have suddenly what you thought was solid, what you believed was possible.

For me, this whole situation is reminding me a lot of my experience when I had cancer. Suddenly, I thought I was a healthy, young person, and I was told, no, I wasn't. Then even with all my treatments, I got told they're not working, and it was just like the rug got pulled out from under me.

CrisMarie Campbell: Well, you were given six months to live.

Susan Clarke: Yes. So, it was a real challenging point. I didn't think I had a future, and I suddenly had to figure out how am I going to live right now? In some respects, this is very, in this scenario, the world, I'm not alone, the world and many, many people are facing a lot of uncertainty. I do think there are things I learned during that time that can be very applicable and helpful now.

CrisMarie Campbell: Today, we want to give you some tidbits in the areas of the me, what you can do for yourself, to help deal with your fear response, what you can do with your relationships both at work and at home, and also how to actually handle business during this changing time.

Susan Clarke: Starting off, recognizing that right now, this particular virus is impacting us as human beings, and it's really hardest on older human beings and people who have a compromised immune system. Young children are actually doing pretty well, but the other thing that's even more curious to me is that animals, the trees, nature, they're doing just fine.

CrisMarie Campbell: Actually, Susan said, “You know, our dog's life hasn't changed a bit.”

Susan Clarke: They sort of look at us, when we're kind of panicked, with that look with their head tilted like, “What is up? Nothing is different.” I realize it's really not for them because they have a whole different thing happening.

CrisMarie Campbell: So, what happens when you get stressed, or scared, or panicking is your brain is firing differently. It's activating your amygdala, and you're going into a fight, or a flight, or a freeze response, which actually limits your brain's focus, and you miss opportunities, you miss different ways to solve something, and it comes out a lot of cortisol.

It's really not helpful to stay in that state. Our system is meant to have spikes when we're in a crisis, like a momentary crisis, we need to run out of the way of a bus, and then it's supposed to come back down. If you're looking at the headlines or worried about the future, or your work, or your money, you can stay in that elevated stressed out state, and it's not good for your health, and it's not good for you actually even having any sort of serenity or peace in your life.

Susan Clarke: So, we wanted to talk about a few ways to help you come back down that curve to settle back down, and a few simple things. The one that's very available is take a deep breath. Breathe. You can do that anytime.

CrisMarie Campbell: Yeah, I'm doing it right now. The second one is a dance break, and we did one right before we recorded this podcast because I was getting pretty tight and agitated, and it really shifted my energy.

Susan Clarke: That's number one, and number two, activate any of your senses really. Smell the oils. Make cookies, touch. Now, you can't maybe right now with social distancing. You're not high fiving people or giving them hugs, but you can touch your dog. You can touch the horses if you happen to live near them.

CrisMarie Campbell: Even just lighting a candle in your space and putting on music, or looking out the window and noticing that the sun keeps rising, and the sun keeps setting every day. That's available to you, is a way for you to connect. Go out and walk in nature if you can. Now, I'm coaching a client and executive in San Francisco, and they're on a three-week mandatory housebound, so they can't walk, but she started exercising with videos and learning hip hop in the confines of her own apartment.

Susan Clarke: So, there are a lot of things, creative things, you can do and hopefully, remembering to breathe. The other thing we wanted to talk about was that it's important to pay attention to your thoughts. What are you thinking? There is a place. What's really important to recognize, if your actions are really driven, and you are not paying attention, what are you thinking? What are the stories behind your actions? Because those stories are like a big filter that is impacting how you make decisions, how you relate to other people.

CrisMarie Campbell: What we do when we coach an individual, this is a big part of how I support them in staying in forward positive resourced action, realizing that circumstances happen. Circumstances are neutral, whether you lose your job, the Coronavirus, the stock market decreasing. Those are all circumstances.

What happens though is we create thoughts about those circumstances, and those thoughts drive our feelings, which drive our actions, which drive our results. The good news is you can actually change all the way down at the results if you change your thoughts.

So, if you're sitting there saying, “Oh, my gosh. My business is going to fail,” or, “I'm going to lose my job,” or, “I'm going to get sick,” likely, it would make me feel scared, tight, panicky, and I might do a lot of scurried action. I might collapse on the couch and watch Netflix. Likely, I'm not going to produce the results that I want.

If I change that thought, and we're not saying create a Pollyanna thought like, “Oh, it's all going to be okay.” If you can choose a more neutral thought, just one degree more neutral like, “Right now, I'm safe. Right now, I'm sitting in a house. I have food. I can watch Netflix. I have choice. I can take a walk.”

Whatever it is to realize that you're going to feel probably a little bit more relief, and you might take different sorts of actions like, “Well, let me actually check my email, or let me work on that project that I haven't had time to,” and you're going to get different results.

Susan Clarke: For me, one of the biggest things, and I'm going to go back to my days dealing with the cancer, was the thought I had was, “I'm never going to be healthy again.” I had some reinforcement on that thought, so I couldn't just go to, “I am going to be healthy,” but I could go to, “I am alive right now.”

The other thing I could do for myself is help what reinforces that for me, and for me at that time, I couldn't go out and run. I didn't have the energy. I wasn't well enough to do it, but I would put on my running clothes. I would put on my running shoes, and I would walk outside or just stand in the house in my running shoes, and it would make me feel healthier. I even insisted to my doctors, “I am wearing my sweats.”

CrisMarie Campbell: You mean versus putting on a hospital gown?

Susan Clarke: Yeah, putting on a hospital gown or staying in my pajamas all day. So, even during this, I find we're doing these videos, I like to get up in the morning and get myself dressed even in business clothes sometimes because it reminds me, “This is just my thinking. I’m billing it out through my whole system.”

CrisMarie Campbell: That's another thing. We periodically work from home, so we're used to it, and then we travel and do off sites. So, we're used to having a routine at the house. Many people are not, and maybe you're home with your spouse, and maybe kids, and dogs, and there could be bandwidth issues, and everybody is trying to get on the internet and have video calls or stream movies.

So, those are also times where recognizing the stresses that are new that you haven't had to deal with, and this moves into the next piece that we're going to talk about is how is this impacting your relationships? At home, you may want to have regular check-ins about what's working and what's not in regards to everybody being at home.

Susan Clarke: I would strongly encourage you to at least do that with your spouse and even as a family. It's a great way to have that connection and contact. It's one of those things where we suggest letting people have a chance to talk about what worked, what didn't, what are the stories they're telling themselves right then, checking things out with each other. It can be really an important part.

CrisMarie Campbell: At work, especially if you're leading a team, you want to make sure that you are reaching out and checking in with people, especially if they are working remotely because this is a time of social distancing, but we still need contact. People need to know that you care about them and that they're connected. One of the things that you might want to recognize is everybody has a different style.

Extroverts need a lot more connection. They may want you to pick up the phone or do a video call, whereas an introvert might be fine with an email, or somebody who's really more emotionally wired might actually really need a chance to ask them how they're feeling and let them vent about the situation. That might be really helpful for them.

Versus if you have a rational person, they may just be like, “These are the facts. This is what's going on. That may be enough for them. Noticing different people's styles and even your own. So, asking for what you need from your boss, your teammates, and even your people that you're living with. It's a really important time when things are up in the air and we don't know, that drives a lot of uncertainty.

Susan Clarke: We really do encourage you. No one is going to get through this crisis and say to themselves, this actually came up from Pat Lencioni wrote a piece, and it was really quite neat because what he said in the end is as a leader, you're not going to get to the end of this crisis and your team is going to say, “Wow, my leader told me too many encouraging words or supported me too much.” That is not going to happen. So, do more, not less. This is a good time to really make sure you are in communication.

CrisMarie Campbell: For those of you having team meetings, or even if you're just calling up a colleague, don't just go right to business. Well, you may if you're dealing with somebody who doesn't want to talk about how they're doing, but you could check in and ask, “How are you doing with all this?” People that don't want to talk about it will say, “Fine,” but other people may really appreciate that you're caring about them as a human being and the impact this is having on them, and it goes a long way.

We are herd animals. I really get how much we love. We go out to bars to connect. We have meetings to connect. We do social things, dancing, coffee shops to work. We like being around each other. So, when we can't do it, it creates a certain amount of stress.

Susan Clarke: Now, I'm going to tell you. That is coming from someone. This is Susan talking about CrisMarie who always tells me, “Look, I am an introvert. I want my space I want this.” I think this is really helping you see the side of you where that's even very valuable. So, imagine what it's like for somebody who is truly extroverted.

CrisMarie Campbell: I have to say, I was doing fine with the social distancing piece until I go workout at Straight Blast Gym, and they closed. Those are the places I want to go. So, that was quite destabilizing for me for a day or so to recognize, “Wow, this is a resource where I get my connection.” It also gave me a sense of structure.

We have a process where we get up, we meditate, then we journal, then we go out for a walk, we do breathing, and now, we're doing Facebook lives at 10:00 a.m. Mountain, and then we do a LinkedIn video, and then we do other things. So, but that creates a lot of consistency, which gives a sense of purpose and meaning for what we're doing.

Susan Clarke: Think about that for yourself, and then together with the people who are in your household talk about what each person needs. Notice if you start to react, you get into your own reaction. There are times when CrisMarie like, I still need my two or three hours because I used go skiing or something like that. Well, now, I'm not doing that. So, she's like, “I need my time when you're away.”

CrisMarie Campbell: We had to have the conversation, which we did, about how much time are we working together and how much time are we working apart because I really do want uninterrupted time for me to do writing or sink into things. So, you may have different needs, especially if you're trapped in the house together.

Susan Clarke: Yeah, and thinking about it's not realistic to send your spouse out right now maybe or your kids out. Maybe it is. We live in Montana, we can do that, but you may not be able to. So, how can you define space? How can you define places so that someone who needs more of that quiet, alone time can have some of it?

CrisMarie Campbell: Yeah, and somebody who needs the connection time. I think Riveter is having online spaces, aren't they? It's kind of like WeWork was. They have spaces where you can go in and work. Well, that's not available right now, so now, they're having virtual check-ins where you can go work online, so you know somebody else is there, which is important if you're working alone.

Susan Clarke: Yes, and Riveter is for moms and women. So, they have, I forgot what they called it, but it was a great like mom space.

CrisMarie Campbell: Mom’s room?

Susan Clarke: I see so many people doing things online to support each other, to try to help if they can get online. That is so great.

CrisMarie Campbell: Now, at work, maybe there are some things for your business that can stay business as usual. You still have to pay payroll and things like that, although that may all be shifting too. So, notice what isn't changing, and then also there are things that are. What we suggest is you might've had the year-long goal or the quarterly goal, and now, “Wow, this is a big wrench in the whole system.”

We suggest pulling your team together, and one, first checking in and seeing how they're feeling about what's going on, giving the support that they need, and then two, brainstorm what would be a short-term purpose that you could all rally around and engage in, and that may be till the end of March.

It could be to the end of April, or they might be really small hops. It could be a weekly focus or a daily focus. Something that helps people pull together because when things are out of control, we need to know what we can control and we need a new purpose.

Susan Clarke: Don't be surprised if in that conversation, things come up that aren't about the bottom line, that aren't about how you're going to make money. It may be that what comes up is people need to know that they can do something for their community. Like in our community, the schools are closed and a lot of kids rely on being at school to get fed breakfast and lunch.

So, some businesses and people have made it their purpose to find ways to make sure those kids get food. Just the other day, I was at our friend's house, big U-Haul truck was outside. This was a truck that was all sorts of food supplies for these kids and families. They had come up with a way to do it, and it wasn't just one business. They had done this collectively.

CrisMarie Campbell: Another thing for small businesses, this is really tough, and we have restaurants in our little town of Whitefish, and one, they've moved to take out, but they're also collaborating and trying to figure out how can we all stay viable during this shutdown.

So, even negotiating different days of the week that one will be open, and then the other will be open. We have more than two, but figuring those things out, we think this is a time where you can work together. It's so tempting, and when we're in crisis, we tend to just get self-involved and think of our own survival. Reach out, and collaborate, and solve problems together.

Susan Clarke: I saw even larger organizations are doing this. I saw that Microsoft had a survey online through LinkedIn asking how can we help during this to help businesses stay online, stay clear about the technology they needed. So, again, take a look around because there may be more things you can do than you realize, and you may have unique situations where you're located as well.

CrisMarie Campbell: Thinking beyond, and this is where once you let people emotionally process, their brains come more back online, and if you're brainstorming, what will help us be successful in the short-term, and what can help our larger community or even competitors stay afloat during this. It gives people a sense of purpose and meaning, which is what we all are looking for because our purpose and meaning has been shifted.

Susan Clarke: I will say, this is a time not for competition, but for collaboration. That's not just in our country or our community, it's across the globe.

CrisMarie Campbell: Susan wrote a rant. She sometimes writes rants on Facebook, and she wrote, “Help lead our leaders because we would love to see our world leaders working together to solve this world crisis,” and think of that as a macro version. How can you work together to solve your community’s issues or your business community's issues, and find creative ways to have purpose and meaning?

Susan Clarke: Yes.

CrisMarie Campbell: William Bridges, who's like the grandfather of change and transition, he has an acronym called CUSP, which is in this time of in between state, certainly, things have ended, and we don't know what's going to happen, is focused on what you can control, that's the C in CUSP, what you need to understand, what support you need, and what's your new purpose. Again, short-term purpose.

So, we were trying to give you ideas of how to support yourself in settling your own nervous system. How to actually create some connection with people and focus on what you can control, which is communicating with people, and even this new purpose. Now, the understanding, I would not spend too much time on the news headlines because you can go a little bonkers there, but get enough information that you're current. Susan wants to say something.

Susan Clarke: Yeah, because I do think there are things that are important to understand because in your fear, you may think, “This is just crazy. There's no way social distancing is a good thing.” Well, go to reliable resources about why that's happening. As people, maybe you can't go to the paper because I don’t think CrisMarie has read a headline since this started.

CrisMarie Campbell: No.

Susan Clarke: But I read them, and then I could share with her, “Here's the seed of truth that comes out of that that's worth us talking about,” and really pay attention to reliable sources. If you're questioning the source, talk to some people. I know it helped me to talk to a neighbor who happens to be a physician who's in the front line to help me understand some of the things that were so critical right now that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. It was like, “Oh, that was helpful. I could hear her, and it made complete sense.”

CrisMarie Campbell: Yeah, it's so easy to whip yourself up into a frenzy, and it's not helpful. So, notice what works for you to settle yourself and what doesn't, and then just keep doing more of that. Okay, that's all we have for today. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to us at because we'd love to support you or even talk about concepts that you are struggling with that we can maybe shed new light on. Okay, take care.

Susan Clarke: Well, thank you for listening to the Beauty of Conflict Podcast. If you’re dealing with a difficult situation in your life or work, remember, every conflict is a chance for you to be vulnerable and curious, and find creative solutions that you hadn’t considered before, and make your situation even better.

Beautiful breakthroughs can be born out of conflict. We’ve seen this happen thousands of times over the last 20 years, and we know this is possible for everyone, including you. We’re grateful you listen to this show and we’re rooting for you.

CrisMarie Campbell: And if you enjoy this show, please tell a few friends and/or post a five-star review on iTunes. Your review helps new listeners discover this show, and more people listening to this show means less friction and arguing and suffering out in the world, so that’s a great thing for everyone.

And also, if you’d like to find out more about us or have us work with your team, speak at your event, or coach with you, go to our website at to read out articles, join our newsletters, reach out to us, and learn more about us. Thanks again for listening. We hope you have a peaceful, productive, and beautiful day.


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

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