I had a realization the other day, that somewhere in the past three to four years, I’ve learned an important lesson I want to share with you all. It has to do with being kind while growing a thicker skin.
Let’s face it: Business is literally an activity whereby the business owner willingly subjects him or herself to increasingly difficult and complex problems in exchange for money.
That’s what you sign up for when you decide to go into business. There is no destination, just progress forward or backward, and with each new level… comes harder and harder problems.
And as you grow, there’s something new that happens to you as the business owner: You are in contact with more and more people. Customers, colleagues, and a growing team.
The exponential growth of relationship dynamics for a business owner is staggering if you watch it play out. If you’re an introvert, an empath, or just a sensitive person in general, this can be the most exhausting part.
I remember the first time a customer made me want to burn my business to the ground. He was a suspicious sort, and paid me $1000 to redo his website. He didn’t like the changes and proceeded to block me, demand a refund, and insist I was trying to hack him.
I cried for a solid day.
Little did I know (and thank God no one told me) that would be the easiest “hater” client I had.
Over the years, I’ve had more unhappy customers and hater trolls on my posts, messages, and in my inbox than I could recall. Some are funny, some are crazy, some really take me a day or two to get over.
And each time I have the same reaction: Is business worth all this? Is it really?
And then I remember this lesson I’m about to teach you….
NEVER make a decision in the heat of the emotional moment because I GUARANTEE that in 7 – 14- 30 days you will be in a team meeting and laughing about how ridiculous it all was…or at least acknowledging that it was a fuck up that you can retell on a blog post someday.
I don’t openly talk about the issues I face on a weekly basis with unhappy customers because I choose to focus on the 99% of the people who are happy and content. I know that it’s human nature to focus on the negative, so I train myself to see the positive.
The thing is, I realize now that this may have unintentionally perpetuated the idea that everyone loves me and therefore what’s wrong with you that you have sour grape customers.
So let me tell you about the time…
- I spent a year with a client who used all my services, didn’t have a good year in business, and then turned around and blamed me for all of it, resulting in me giving back 50% of her money (losing thousands and thousands of dollars)
- I have one particular customer who insists I’ve stolen all her IP, and harasses me regularly with threats for stealing her ideas
- On a weekly basis, I’m wrangling angry or disappointed customers at FG Funnels who didn’t like their support experience, or felt the app was too hard.
- Randomly I’ll find influencers block me and then when I reach out to ask why, I get no satisfiable answer.
- Well meaning advice flies in my direction on the daily. I’m not doing enough of this, or enough of that, etc.
- Partnerships gone bad that turn into untrue passive aggressive rumors.
- Facebook commenters that accuse me of drama, of being too fragile, biting the hand that feeds me, etc.
- Customers threatening to call BBB on me for a mistake they made.
- People misunderstanding the words I use or the intentions of my heart.
On and on it goes.
So no…it’s not just you. You are not weird for having a hater, or a pissy client. You are not weird because you feel like burning it all to the ground when things go sour.
But what you can do in that moment, no matter how rotten you feel – is tell yourself that Julie said in 7-14-30 days I will be laughing about this. Okay maybe not laughing, but you won’t want to burn your business to the ground.
When the urge to run + hide hits you, that’s the moment to stand.
Because something important is happening. You’re developing a thicker skin while remaining kind. It’s literally happening in the moment for you, not to you.
To run + hide is to defend yourself. The thing that will turn thick skin into cynicism. Resist.
For every encounter you have that you STAY in, keeping your kind + sensitive heart while not crumbling under the weight of not being good enough…another notch in your thick skin belt is being formed.
And one day – you’ll hit another customer being upset, and you’ll notice that you don’t want to burn your business down.
You don’t want to run and hide. You take a deep breath, channel your inner strength, face it head on with your kind thick skin.