6 Tips for Handling "Disaster Makers"

We’ve all seen the deals that were a disaster.  Some started that way.  Others became disasters as they evolved, for any number of reasons.

Disasters create opportunity for the true smart professional to show the value they bring to the table.  This is a great thing and a way for great reputations to be built.  The seasoned pros may not love these projects but they embrace them and show they are the professional they have claimed to be (and are paid to be).

Unfortunately, it also creates opportunity for those that create the disasters to claim their value later for cleaning up their own mess.  These people just cost everyone time, money and energy.

The “disaster makers” are usually good at pointing fingers and blame, pulling everyone into the mess and may even honestly believe this is normal for a project or deal.   They often believe that the chaos that surrounds them is either normal and/or not ever their fault. What a waste.



How do the “disaster makers” stay in business?  In my opinion, a problem in many markets is buyers and sellers that do not get in the open market often enough to know who to seek for true professional help and who to avoid.  And their colleagues, friends, family and neighbors are usually not knowledgeable enough to offer much real help.

It is a challenge to distinguish the professionals that make the project easier from the ones that actually make it harder.   In other words, few people know who to believe.  Buyers, sellers, employers and employees often just make a leap of faith.

Don’t believe me?  Ask 3 people to name 3 ways their doctor is THE BEST CHOICE for their health care.  Exclude answers about how nice they are or how long they’ve had their practice. 

If they can’t explain specific MEDICAL and/or BUSINESS differences, then I stand by my “leap of faith” model of doctor selection.  Sorry.



So, what can you do to better avoid the unnecessary disaster?  Here are 6 tips to get you started!

1.  Avoid the “disaster makers” when possible.  Not just on deals but in life.  We are all known by the company we keep, whether we realize or accept it or not.  If you have an emotional need to “help”, “fix” or “enable” others, find another place to do this or, even better, get counseling.  Remember, your clients or employer did not hire you to “rescue” others, they hired you to be “their” professional.

2.  Acknowledge (to yourself) you cannot always avoid the “disaster makers” but you can minimize their impact by being proactive.  And accept and embrace that to do this you will have to do more work to keep the deal focused.

You are not paid just to do the easy deals, your paid to make them all successful (even when you have to exert more effort to overcome challenges created by others).

3.  Old Russian saying, “Trust but verify.”   Don’t assume everyone will be as thorough and professional as you.  That is not suggesting you micromanage everyone, just stay on top of the progress and issues to see they are being addressed appropriately.

4.  Communicate clearly, accurately and regularly.  Many disasters build because they were allowed to develop over time.  Or were unknown to others that might could have solved the issue before it grew and came to light.

5.  Avoid emotional aspects.  Be the professional.  Anger, rage, aggression, whining, complaining, and bullying are the tools of the “disaster makers.”   So don’t go there.  Be the calm in the storm.

In a storm at sea, we all would rather follow the captain that is calm and decisive than the raging, scared or thoughtless captain.

6.  Establish clear futures. This makes others accountable, including yourself.   You cannot control others but it can be established what is expected and done in a way that all understand.  This make the problems areas more obvious and removes some of the tools, such as confusion, that the “disaster-makers” love.

For example, send an email after a discussion that says, “Thank you for your phone call.  Per our discussion, you will have these documents to the title company by 3pm on Thursday.  If there is any problem, you will notify me and Mr. Smith by that time.  If I misunderstood any of this, please let me know immediately at….”


There will always be those that just make things harder than they should be, whether intentional, from inexperience, from arrogance or just honest mistakes.

And mistakes and surprises happen.  To be honest, I am not as impressed with perfection as I am with how someone reacts and responds when there is a problem.  And with those that know how to limit problems that naturally occur.

True professionals are the ones that add value by making a deal easier than it would be without them.


Got ways to avoid the “Disaster Makers?”   Please share!!


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.