Crazy stories… one of my favorite things about being a business owner.
I’ve had some whacky customer experiences. There’s the guy who wanted to share a “doobie” and also take me out on a date… Then there’s the time a couple of men decided to seriously make out in my waiting room, I thought I was going to have to set off the sprinkler system. And then there’s the time a customer put super glue in the locks to our office… that was fun.
But I’ll never forget the day that George stopped by. Now, George (not his real name, I’ve actually forgotten his real name), was one of the cheap customers who was never happy. No matter what you tried to do for him it wasn’t enough.
Then he decided one day that we should hire this kid he knew to help us out around the shop. He talked this kid up, so I said, “send him over”.
The kid was smart so I hired him to do some miscellaneous stuff. File, sweep the floor, etc. Unfortunately he was too smart for filing and sweeping the floor…
Well, I kept the kid on because I’m a sucker… for something. And then, one day, there was a scheduling glitch.
The kid thought he was supposed to work on a Saturday but we weren’t scheduled to be open on Saturday. His mother, another genius, drops him off in the parking lot and takes off. But no one is there. No one. The parking lot is empty, we clearly aren’t there…
Eventually, he gets ahold of his mother or someone to come pick him up after waiting over an hour. Meanwhile, I had no idea this was going on because no one ever called us to ask or confirm.
Monday rolls around. The clock hits 4:00 pm, I’m out in the shop and suddenly, I hear the voices. I figure I need to find out what’s going on, so I head into the office and George is there. George is yelling at my business partner. His face is red. The veins in his neck are bulging… George is really mad.
Turns out the kid is George’s nephew and we’ve apparently committed some crime by not being at the shop working on Saturday. The kid’s scheduling confusion has now become our mortal crime.
George is yelling. Every other word is profane. The spittle is flying. His arms are waving around. It’s pretty ugly.
My partner tries to say something several times but never ever gets to finish a sentence.
What Would You Do?
Conflict sucks. And even when the story is funny, like the “doobie” guy saying, “hey bayyyybeeee”, it’s still pretty uncomfortable, right?
So what do you do? How do you manage a difficult situation or conversation?
We tend to view most of our uncomfortable situations in a vacuum… but they aren’t static situations that happen over and over. Like firing an employee or saying “no” to discounts.
Sometimes the crazy whacky situation happens and you need to be prepared.
One year my father fired an employee, the next day the ex-employee came back with a shotgun… no situation is predictable.
So what would you do with the yelling-crazy-whacky-George? Or how about the “doobie” guy or the shotgun employee?
I laugh about these stories now, but in the moment, those events can be incredibly uncomfortable… especially if you are an introverted woman.
Top-Secret Strategy for Handling Difficult Situations
What is my top-secret strategy you ask???
In my latest Kindle book, I devote an entire chapter to this strategy because it is so important, especially when you are faced with a difficult situation on the fly that demands you deal with it right then… kind of like the whole George situation.
In the free workbook, I outline some exercises for determining what you need to know about yourself, because it isn’t just one thing, it’s many things.
One of those key knowledge items is how you react in any given situation.
What does that mean?
Let’s take the George story, if a guy was standing in your office yelling at you and not giving you an opportunity to speak, how would you react? How would you feel?
Would you get sweaty palms? Would your heart rate go through the roof? How about your breathing? Would you feel scared? Or would you feel angry? Fight or flight?
Knowing how you react in these situations allows you to counteract any reaction that might not yield the results you’re looking to achieve.
My first reaction in these situations: defiance, anger, definitely fight and not flight. But yelling at the George wouldn’t accomplish much. Certainly no more than my partner trying to reason with him did. As an introvert, my immediate thought is to avoid conflict when I can, but push me just a little and I flip right into fight mode.
In order to achieve my End-Game, my optimal outcome, I need to step back and do what I call the ninja flip from my standard modus operandi to ninja-calm mode. The ninja-calm mode is where I quiet those immediate and innate reactions, so that I can act in a way that allows me to exercise control, while managing the situation.
I have to push down the instinct to yell at George, and instead exercise extreme calm and control. In this way, I can move events into the direction they need to go in order to achieve my End-Game. In this situation, my End-Game is all about getting George to leave.
Knowing myself, knowing how I react, allows me the ability to counteract those instincts and do what’s best in the situation.
When you fully know yourself, you have power. When you fully know yourself, you can control your actions. You can then act, instead of reacting.
The Rest of the Story
When I saw what was going on with my partner and George, it took only seconds to flip into ninja-calm mode. I stepped in next to my business partner and asked him to please leave the office. I also asked him to not say anything else. I said it calmly and quietly, as quietly as I could and still be heard. George’s focus then settled on me. All of his anger, his yelling, his horrible language, was instantly directed at me. (George probably needed medication…)
I stood up straight and I looked calmly at him and said: “You need to leave.”
Of course, unlike the movies… this guy didn’t just stop, right? Nope he just kept yelling.
Nothing about me changed. I didn’t change my facial expression and I didn’t react. I simply said, “you need to leave”, again. I raised my arm and pointed towards the door.
For the next few minutes, minutes that seemed like forever, I stood there, arm extended and said, “you need to leave.” As some point I remember saying, “you need to leave or I will call the police.”
Between those two statements, I just kept on repeating, like a broken record. I never moved and I never changed my expression. I just repeated the same thing over and over until he finally realized that he wasn’t going to get a rise out of me.
I made clear that nothing he did or said, was going to make any difference. Ninja-calm.
Finally, he spit out one last comment, threw open the door and left.
I grabbed the counter, hung onto it until he was in his car and had driven away.
Then, I collapsed in my chair.
Don’t get me wrong, the whole thing sucked. But it’s a constant reminder to me that you can take control of almost any situation, if you can take control of yourself.
Sure, George is a pretty extreme example. Although I have to say I’ve dealt with some pretty whacky people. People have a tipping point and when they reach it, they hit a place where they lose control, like George. It isn’t always so extreme, but if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of someone else’s anger, you know exactly what I mean.
It is hard not to fight back or run the heck away from it.
So yeah, whacky-George is an extreme case, but understanding the point of the story means you can take on even the most innocuous of negotiations and achieve your objectives.
And just think, without the whacky-George story, how else would I illustrate the power of ninja-calm and the power of knowing yourself?