“Nobody Calls Me Chicken”

How do you respond to rude customers? Do you take their insults personally or do you see them as an opportunity. In ‘Back to the future’ Marty McFly destroys his future because he reacts to being called ‘chicken’. This my seem humorous but the lesson is powerful. We are reacting to people everyday. Every interaction has the potential to move us forward or backward.

When under attack

Yesterday I received an email from a guy who decided to criticise me over a mistake he found on a random email. Rather than simply saying there was a mistake he attacked me personally accusing me of being a scammer. His tone was completely out of line and his accusation had no basis. It was just a venomous attack for no apparent reason. I responded by saying it was an honest mistake and thanked him for letting me know. I included a special offer at a reduced price. He responded again ignoring my offer with another cheap shot. I replied politely again working hard not to take it personally but, in the process I made another spelling mistake in my email. He responded with another insult at which point I was ready to just say what I was really thinking.

Taking the high road

I took a breath and sent another apology saying it was a typo. I then decided to check his Facebook page and found he had his own blog. After some research I found an interesting article he wrote and responded mentioning that I had discovered his blog and enjoyed the article. At this point his tone completely changed. He thanked me and apologised for his earlier insults saying he was having a bad day. An hour later I noticed he purchased my program and is now an ongoing client.

Its never personal

When people insult you its rarely personal. What it is, is an opportunity. Its usually someone crying out for help. I know that what they are expecting is a fight but when you don’t react and in fact compliment they are often surprised. Whenever I use this approach there are generally two types of outcomes. 1. I never hear from them again. For many of them they simply don’t know how to respond to a compliment. 2. They respond in kind with an apology and end up becoming a customer. If I insult them (and I am guilty of this by the way), it usually results in an escalation of insults and we both end up feeling a lot worse. Check out the movie ‘Changing Lanes’ for an example of how bad things can get.

Your future self

Just like Marty McFly consider your future self whenever you feel yourself about to react. Step back even if its only for a few seconds. Think about your options and what each choice means for your future self. My approach is to default to not reacting and never exchanging insults with insults. If I feel insulted I either walk away from the situation or I respond with a humbling comment. It seems to work.
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