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Despite our usually sunny dispositions and dedication to the practice of “assuming positive intent,” we all occasionally find ourselves having to deal with an incredibly unpleasant individual.

While I’m sure you always handle it with the tact and finesse for which you’ve become so well known, I’m going to ask you to step outside yourself for just a moment.

Think back to such a situation: if the gloves were off, how you really would have liked to have dealt with them?

I am one of those people who is mild-mannered and pleasant…until I’m not.

My biggest trigger has always been a bully; and, I’ve run into enough of them in my time that when push comes to shove, I’m going to put you on your heels.

Because of this sense of…what? Self-righteousness? Seeker of justice? I don’t exactly know, it’s not often that I won’t eventually speak my mind.

Typically, it’s when dealing with a client that I end up with a tongue that is raw from biting it. Only once, and only because I was too far from the door to walk out did I regret not being able to say what I really thought.

This was a long-time client, and one who routinely questioned our competence, our recommendations, and our patience. We had put together a full presentation, and my boss has gone through it beautifully. We had good options for them, with some potential to save them money.

During this type of meeting, I would stay quiet, taking notes. It was a good practice for our follow-up, and Marcie and I would go through them during a debrief, to make sure we heard the same things.

At the end of this particular presentation, the client turned on me and began berating me regarding my follow up on claims that he had disputed. I had followed up…he just hadn’t liked being told that he did, in fact, have to pay his deductible. From there, he moved on to something he felt very strongly about. Apparently, I had not spent enough time talking to his wife. Yes…my job description was supposed to include spending precious work hours calling his wife just to chat. He mentioned that another broker called her all of the time.

This went on for several minutes before my boss could redirect his attention. I sat through the rest of the meeting, stunned.

We left the meeting, rode down the elevator, and walked out to the car before either of us said a word. Marcie burst out laughing; but, I didn’t think it was funny! She was just glad he hadn’t vented on her!

I’m not even sure how I could have handled it differently…telling him off would have cost us the business. Instead, we just went on like nothing had been said. The next year, I asked Marcie to go without me; but, we both knew that this was the type of client you don’t go see alone…you need to record things so that they can’t say you promised something you hadn’t.

This was the year I tried roller derby and promptly broke my elbow. I showed up for the meeting in a sling, and what do you know? The client was the most pleasant he’d ever been. When we got to our cars afterwards, I said, “Next year, I’m coming in a wheelchair!”

I am participating in Reverb 14. We are taking time to pause, reflect and release this year gently. If you’d like to join us, we would love to have you. Just go to I Saw You Dancing to sign up.

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