What’s on the iPod: Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty
Busy week, albeit a short one since my husband and I are finally going to take that vacation we’ve been putting off. Sadly, it’s just four days, but it’s four I don’t have to think about projects or money or anything beyond relaxing. After the weekend I just went through, I’m glad for it.
Because my weekend was full of stressful situations — early mornings, waiting, big crowds and navigating on foot for ten miles, not to mention having my mother and her friend to entertain — I was thinking of how I could redirect my stress or upset in ways that wouldn’t hurt anyone’s good time. It was easy thanks to the atmosphere we were in, but I’ll confess to a few moments in which I wanted to snap at someone or where I needed to un-hear what someone had just said that was way too inappropriate or prying.
In more than one instance with the mom or her friend, I was biting my tongue. Hard. It’s a privilege of getting older to be able to say what’s on your mind whether it should be said or not. After hearing about five different judgments in the span of 15 minutes, I was contained, especially since it was the first time I’d spent any length of time with the friend, but I did assert my boundaries and halted the negative conversation without getting angry or raising my voice.
I used the same methods with the ladies that I do with clients. I invent a new reaction and discard the one that isn’t working. Here are some ways in which to do that:
Get in their heads. That client could have his or her head on the chopping block, or he could have just found out his company is laying people off, or perhaps her supervisor hates her and is looking for a reason to let her go. Always assume something other than you is causing their stress and upset. Until they tell you otherwise, it’s a safe way to approach conversations.
Don’t hear the emotion — hear the facts. Sometimes clients are just too frank. They’ll spill out every little thing that bothers them about what you’ve just presented or what they don’t want to see from the likes of you. Instead of getting your back up, ask for specifics. Where did things start to go wrong in the piece? What bad experiences have you had that you’re hoping to avoid?
Modify the conversation. Take control of it calmly and gently. Ask questions that get to the root of the problem (and also make the client feel heard). Talk through some of the possible solutions. Ask if there’s anything the client would like you to do that would satisfy them.
Stop talking. Sometimes our first reaction is to talk. Assure them this, promise them that. Only problem is we’re not hearing them because we’re so busy trying to fix it verbally. Shut up. Listen. Let the client tell you what’s wrong and where it went wrong for them. Don’t try to speak for them or fill in the blanks.
Maintain your own calm. Look, you can’t stop someone from being upset. You can, however, change your own reaction. If you refuse to allow someone else’s upset to change your own mood, you can respond and amend the situation from a much better perspective. Detach.
Writers, how do you deal with client upset?
What methods do you use for redirecting your stress?