Podcast Episode 25 – Dealing with the unexpected

Welcome to the 25th episode of the Testing Peers Podcast.

Join Russell, David and Chris as we discuss the unexpected.

After talking about unexpected or anti-climactic events in our lives, specifically food and movies, we look at how it applies to us in the workplace.

Whether it is a colleague leaving unexpectedly (or even if it isn’t a surprise), or being blindsided by surprising appraisals, changes to project scope, or team dynamic shift – we all have to deal with the unexpected.

We share what we can do to prepare or mitigate, taking perspective and ensuring that we communicate and empathise.

The five stages of grief are brought up, and that is something that applies well.

  1. Denial – The first reaction is denial. In this stage, individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.
  2. Anger – When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, they become frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”; “Why would this happen?”.
  3. Bargaining – The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise. Examples include the terminally ill person who “negotiates with God” to attend a daughter’s wedding, an attempt to bargain for more time to live in exchange for a reformed lifestyle or a phrase such as “If I could trade their life for mine”.
  4. Depression – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon, so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one; why go on?”
    During the fourth stage, the individual despairs at the recognition of their mortality. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.
  5. Acceptance – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it; I may as well prepare for it.”
    In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. People dying may precede the survivors in this state, which typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable condition of emotions.


Leaders have an obligation to communicate, empathise, and minimise the unexpected nature. Big things require the personal touch, we need to consider the optics of what has happened, as well as the feelings of the people. Treating people as individuals, trusting our guts, communicating.

We discuss what dealing with the unexpected events in life means to us, as we progress. Do we gain wisdom, do they shape us, help us to appreciate the better things?

No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected.

Julius Caesar

Thank you for listening. Please do get in touch if you would like to know more or would like to give us feedback to help us improve and grow.

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You can find out more at https://saffronqa.co.uk/  or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/saffron-qa/

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