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Dealing with the unexpected!

The curve ball. The sudden and unexpected road block. The slap in the face you weren’t expecting.

Also known as the sudden change in interview format, the company who says they are open to flexibility but then says no, and the job offer that is suddenly withdrawn for no obvious reason.

Road Closed sign with traffic cones

It happens all too often, but how do you deal with a sudden and unexpected negative turn of events? How do you work past the emotion, the frustration, the anger, and look at the situation from an objective position?

It is really important to know how to cope with these events before they happen, so you can be more efficient in dealing with them and they affect you less.

So here are our top 5 tips for dealing with the unexpected.

1. Don’t do or say anything until you dealt with the emotion. Emotion makes us irrational and clouds our judgement leading us to say or do things that often makes the problem worse. So do what you need to metabolise those emotions, enabling you to deal with the issue more objectively. This might be going for a walk, doing some exercise (always works for me), talking to someone in your support team or finding somewhere quiet for a few moments of mindful breathing exercises. Work out a couple of options that work for you and make sure you can access at least one at all times. i.e. it’s not always possible to do some exercise, but you can usually go for a walk or make a phone call.

2. Don’t shoot the messenger. Often the messenger (recruiter/HR assistant) will be sympathetic to your situation and might have had some experience in dealing with this before, so may be able to help. How you react will often be passed back-up the chain and a calm and professional response can win points and help you in your cause.

3. Decide if you need to offer a solution, deal with it or walk away. If, for example, a company changes the terms of the job offer reducing the amount of remote work you can do, then you need to decide what to do next. (Do not do this if you are feeling emotional in any way!) Normally you have three options:

  1. Figure out a solution that appeals to the company that also helps you. Call your support team, including us at The Returners’ Tribe to bounce ideas around.

  2. Deal with the reduced remote days - you can still make it work; or

  3. Walk away. You should never be afraid to walk away. Ever. I know, accepting the bad news might seem like the only option. That it took you 6 months to find this job and what if it takes longer to find the next job? Well, you can deal with those issues another day, but ask yourself - will I be happy in this job and will the changes affect my ability to be both the parent and professional i want to be? If you’re not happy with the answer, then walk away.

Road closed and diversion signs on british high street

4. Sense check your decision. Even when we think we’re being objective, we can still find it difficult to see the big picture and all solutions. So call your support team (including us!) and talk it through. If it still feels like a good plan, then go for it.

5. Stay flexible, but firm. Appreciate that others might have suggestions, or circumstances might change, that require a little flexibility to make your plan work. But do not, under any circumstances, allow a recruiter, hiring manager or anyone else push you in to accepting a solution that isn’t right for you.

You will have to deal with curve balls at some point, it is a simple fact of life, but knowing how to react to them can be the difference between you riding the wave and sinking.

If you would like to discuss this and other coping strategies in more detail then reach out to us at The Returners’ Tribe by clicking the link below, using the Live Chat or by sending an email to

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