Panic Culture

Navigating the Perils of Reactivity


Why is it that individuals believe that panicking makes the problem a higher priority? If you panic every single time, the urgency seems less each time. How many scenarios can we go through before we realize that this is not the approach that you should take when problem solving?

I understand that culture is developed. I’ve gone through plenty of them, and there’s one that I despise, and that’s panic culture. Unfortunately, individuals think that by raising concern and adding 10 exclamation points at the end of a sentence raises the urgency of the topic.

The best way to keep the panic culture going is by responding promptly to each of these issues. If it’s an actual issue, then respond with urgency. However, if you respond with panic, these individuals will be trained to always swing the panic bell, even for the smallest, most insignificant issues.


“The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”


It takes time to retrain panic culture. Some people leave because they can’t handle the change, but others know that their issues will be addressed in the appropriate time.

Once trained, tone becomes everything. You can see what is actually an issue through the tone. Credit Card processing going down is definitely a top issue. Adding 10 exclamation points at the end of the statement makes it less effective. The person that receives the email now must mentally get past the 10 exclamation points in order to start resolving the issue. This helps nobody.

The first question that the problem solver asks themselves is, “do I even want to work with this individual(s) anymore?” Each subsequent interaction starts becoming worse and the problem solver will naturally try to avoid that person(s) as much as they possibly can. You can see turnover rates skyrocketing at these workplaces.

The solution needs to come from the top down where leadership takes on a calm approach to resolution. Let’s sit down, breathe, and work through the steps. The solution is usually simple. Stress-creators (panic individuals) should be identified and spoken with. There needs to be some serious retraining and the root cause(s) should be identified. Is it part of the individual’s normal behavior? Do they know that this is not appropriate in the work environment? Is the reason for the frustration legitimate? Could they just be working with others that are truly incompetent and do not understand urgency and prioritization?

Whatever the case may be, think about any scenario that you may find yourself in. Regardless of the stress level, what is the first thing that most instruction manuals will tell you to do? Breathe and relax. Clear your head. Don’t panic.

Going through a slowly escalatory process should be key. Be careful and understand that these are also human beings that you’re speaking with. Let’s get rid of panic culture everywhere.


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