How to Deal With a Crisis: The Three P’s Model

The reality is that life is never a smooth or easy journey. There’s constantly twists and turns in the road, and unexpected situations that happen both in work and personally that set us back. 

However, generally our success and happiness in any area of life is not determined by the number of setbacks we face, but by the actions we take when dealing with these situations. It’s not about what is happening to us, but how we choose to respond and who we become as a result. 

So the question remains: how can we effectively manage difficult situations that appear to be ‘out of our control’?

The key here is having tools in your arsenal that equip you to respond in a thoughtful and measured way, as opposed to in a reactive way.

One of the frameworks we share with our clients is the three P’s model that was originally coined by world-renowned psychologist, Martin Seligman. 

Essentially, this framework forces you to think through three key questions in order to gain perspective about unexpected situations and empower you to respond. In this video we’ll dive into the three P’s in more detail:

1. Permanent: How permanent is the situation?

The first question you need to ask yourself when something doesn’t go to plan is how permanent is this situation? 

Is this something that you are going to be worrying about in five years? Or is it something that will likely only bother you for five days? In some cases the issue might even last for as little as five minutes. 

When we’re in the middle of a crisis, it’s hard to see an end point and it can feel as if it is going to last forever. But if we step back and look at the situation logically it’s easier to see that the issue probably isn’t as big of a deal as it seems in the moment. 

2. Pervasive: How pervasive is this issue?

When something goes wrong either personally or professionally, it’s easy to feel as if the world is crumbling down around you. Missed out on that promotion? Didn’t get the job you applied for?

While these situation are not ideal, you need to ask: how much of your life does this actually impact? 

You might have missed out on that dream job, but a whole world exists outside of your work — your friends, family, health, hobbies. 

Will missing out on the promotion mean you’ll lose your house? Is it going to negatively affect your health?

Asking yourself these questions will help you put things in perspective, as you’ll determine the limits of the problem and most likely realise it’s more contained that you initially thought. 

3. Personalisation: How much are you to blame for what has happened?

Those people who have a tendency to constantly blame themselves are often more prone to pessimism, whereas those who are able to see that external factors may have had an impact tend to be able to bounce back quicker. 

Now this does not mean that you should adopt a victim mentality and only seek to lay blame on external forces, as this mindset is equally detrimental. 

However, it’s important to be able to look at your circumstances objectively and recognise that certain factors outside of your control probably came into play, as well as taking ownership of your personal role in the situation so you can take away lessons for the future. 

If you haven’t already, make sure you watch the video above where we dive deeper into this model. In the comments below, we’d love to know: what tools and tactics do you use to handle personal or professional crisis?


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