In Business Tips

Think Before You SpeakI recently experienced two uncomfortable client situations at work that caused me to stop and really give some thought about how to respond and proceed.

In the first situation, I was working on a branding and website package for a newly formed business with three owners. Well into the project, two of the owners went out of town for a couple of weeks. While they were gone, the third partner decided to contact a web designer friend of his and asked him to work on the project. When his partners returned, they found themselves in an awkward situation.

Against their better judgment they agreed to give in to their partner’s wish to proceed with his friend.  When I was informed of the situation, I realized the hard spot my client was in and although I had misgivings on the likelihood that it would turn out well for them, I graciously stepped aside and gave the new web designer all of my files. Several weeks later, I got a call from the clients begging me to take them back. I accepted. We are now nearly finished with a site that they love and all’s well that ends well.

The other situation occurred on the morning after one of my recent email newsletter webinars. I was having my coffee and reading my email when I received a scathing message telling me how I had wasted this person’s time the night before by not telling her “how to do” a newsletter during the webinar. Among other things, she accused me of luring her in under false pretences like other smarmy Internet marketing people and told me she wanted me to personally unsubscribe her from my list.

Needless to say, I was stunned and it was like a knife in my heart. After thinking about it, the smarmy marketing person thing didn’t ring true. I pride myself on helping people get to the next level in their businesses and more often I lean to the side of generosity with my time and content. The webinar I lured her into, was in fact free and I never promised that I would tell them how to do a newsletter on the call.

So, I braced myself and reread her email. This time, taking my emotions out of it, I heard the level of frustration and anxiety that she was experiencing around the whole topic of newsletters. In that light, I completely understood her sense of desperation, which was why I developed the Easy Peasy Email Newsletter Course in the first place.

So instead of unsubscribing her, I reached out and thanked her for letting me know what was going on and offered to speak to her about it. She wrote back and thanked me for being so generous despite her going off on me. She acknowledged her fear and frustration about getting a newsletter done and took me up on the offer to help her and asked me not to unsubscribe her. Furthermore, she told me that she was also just as vocal about positive things as negative and she would tell everyone about how I was nice to her despite her behavior.

It can be tough for small business owners to deal with situations with clients that could potentially lead us to feel bad and defensive. It’s challenging to not take these situations personally. The best approach is to take a step back from your own feelings and assess the situation from the client’s point of view. Then, think about what your goals are. Is it better to spout off and to have the last word or, maybe if you understand where they are coming from, could there be a better way?

I am glad I was able to step back and think things through before responding rather than reacting from a negative, less abundant perspective. It isn’t easy to do, but it is a skill that can be improved upon with practice.

Sometimes that psychology degree sure comes in handy 🙂

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Showing 6 comments
  • Michelle Hiskey
    Reply

    It's counterintuitive to reach out to a critic, but your post demonstrates the power of doing so. Often complaints are the mark of someone who is very passionate. Find a way to tap into that passion and gain a contact/client/friend. Thanks for sharing.

    • judi knight
      Reply

      Michele, the common thing people say online is “Don’t feed the trolls”. But I think there are cases where you can see what a person is going through and respond to that rather than the poor way they expressed themselves out of frustration. So it seemed the best approach to me at the time because I know how blasted scary it is to have to learn all of this stuff and then put yourself out there. It makes people crazy:-)

  • Healthy Home Decor
    Reply

    Kudos to you for remaining cool under the circumstances.
    For the record, I have always found you very helpful, very clear (no mixed messages), very generous with your knowledge and under no circumstances "smarmy".
    I am working through the Easy Peasy Email Newsletter online course and finding all the information, and most importantly the steps preceding the making of an email newsletter extremely valuable. This is not something I would ever have been able to figure out for myself, so thank you so much for laying it all out in such a clear fashion.

  • venetian blind
    Reply

    Good thing that you pause and think. Customers have really different attitude. 🙂

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