Deep down, I’m a softie.
The tough exterior is part of the protection armor we all wear from time to time.
It would be horribly wrong of me to suggest that if you are nice to everyone, everyone will be nice back. It simply isn’t true. The world is filled with bullies and you are going to cross paths with some of them at some point. That’s when you have to be prepared, when you have to have your armor ready. Not because you are going into battle, but because you need to protect yourself.
I would say that 95% of the time you can be kind, joyful, happy, and generous with your customers. It’s easy, be nice and people are generally nice back.
But then there’s the 5%. That 5% is going to be tough to please no matter what you do, no matter how nice you are, no matter what you say. The challenge is dealing with that 5%.
You might assume that I’m going to get all toughie, meanie girl on you, but I’m not. In fact, I rarely get toughie on anyone. Instead, I keep being nice. I might have to change my tone a little bit if things get out of hand, but generally I just keep being nice.
The difference is that when I realize things might be going south, I quietly slip on my armor. I go into self-protection mode… that means, I simply don’t take it personally. I keep doing the same things, offering the same help, continuing to explain, and be nice, but I’ve got the armor on and it protects me from unkind words, rudeness, or mistreatment by others.
The thing is, bullying back never works. Things just escalate, emotions rise, feelings get hurt… it’s not productive.
Instead just keep doing what you were doing, be nice, be kind, be yourself. Slip on the armor, realize it’s not about you, and let the armor deflect it.
I’ve found that when a bully doesn’t get an escalated response they start to back down. Why? Because the first thing a frustrated person wants is to vent, they need to get the frustration out. The next thing they need is help, a solution. If you can be patient then the energy will eventually turn around.
What about the outlier who absolutely won’t stop bullying? Well, that’s what pre-scripted language is for. Have a well-stated professional, but kind, response.
I was once bullied by a general contractor twice my age, he yelled at me and started to use profane language. I got nowhere with him using calmness and niceness. Finally I pulled out a script, “Mr. X, I’m afraid that profane language is unprofessional and if you’d like to continue our conversation when you can refrain from using it, please don’t hesitate to call me back.” Yes, I had to hang up. But he did call back and the first words out of his mouth we apologetic. After that, we were able to get some work done.
The key is to be prepared. Know how to get your armor on and when. And, if things go sideways, have a well-prepared script.
While you are at it… get a copy of my newest Kindle book >> What to Say, How to Say it << it’s filled with scripts and scripting how-to goodness.