I was reading an article about the effects of words on people around us the other day, and something has occurred to me: since I became my own boss – so to speak, that is running my own business – I’ve had to deal with a lot of direct communication with clients, prospects and people I wanted to be connected to.
Sometime, faced with a seemingly bad situation, or one where you feel that the opposite side is feeling negative towards you, you have to make a choice to look at it positively, and with the intention of smoothing out the ripples.
When you work for someone as an employee, this responsibility falls on your boss, the CEO, the manager, the department head, etc, and unless you are in one of those positions, you rarely have to interface with the clients directly.
But when you are a business owner, and everything rests on your shoulders, you have to learn to deal with situations where you need to become a pacifier.
Working with other people under your guidance or supervision, it is almost always unavoidable to run into this problem. That’s because other people think different from you, they have their own thoughts and do their actions in their own manner. There’s just simply no way for you to control their words and actions, as you shouldn’t even try, for sure, and so you have to be the one who steps in when things go awry.
The first time this happened to me, I made a call to the client and “investigated” what has happened that made him send me an email directly with such an upset tone. Client explained to me that working with my associate was tough for him, because every time he asked for something to be done he felt that he was hitting a wall and not getting what he wanted.
I’ve listened patiently for a good twenty minutes while the client vented out his frustration, and then asked him how he would like the issue to be solved. This probably caught him off guard, and expected me to reject his complaints, but instead I just apologized for the inconvenience and suggested that he gives me a solution. All throughout the conversation I paid very close attention to not accuse anyone of making a mistake anywhere at any time, and this seemed to have worked like magic. He was very agreeable after that that there’s definitely a way we can work this out, and as he was going through his own “plan” of solving the situation he made his own self realize that we were actually really close to finishing the project, and only one tiny thing needs to be fixed.
The point of all this is let the communication flow in it’s natural manner. Do not try to control it with arguing back, or discredit your opponents point by telling them that they are wrong (even if they are and everyone knows it), but rather let them deal with the frustration that caused the upset in the first place, because as I realized from many experiences, it is usually not you they are mad at, but rather the situation. If you can realize this, and separate yourself from the emotional disturbance this can cause, it will help level your emotions and now you will be able to respond in a calm, and collected manner without arguing.
I find it very important to place yourself in the shoes of your clients. Think like they do, and consider what would you do if someone told you NO when you asked them for a simple thing. Especially if they are paying you for the work. I’m not saying they are always right, and you do every single little thing they ask for, but you have to learn to be a positive leader, and learn how to say NO in a constructive manner.
But that’s a whole different article for another time…
Anna Kernbaum is the founder/owner and chief creative of Pixellent Design. You can contact Anna directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (310) 896-5071