Remember when we were kids? Our parents stressed that we should all play well together in the sandbox. My mother had told me to ignore the temper of other kids and be nice. That was sage advice until the day five-year-old "Little Tommy Marker" got upset and hit me in the head with a (metal) hoe. I think he wanted my dump-truck.
I still carry that scar...and the wisdom that bullies, be they in the sandbox or in the board room, need to be dealt with...firmly.
Is the customer always right? Is the minority opinion always to be listened to? Can you move your business forward by always...being nice?
Too blunt or too truthful?
Tuck this away someplace: "There is a segment of the population that you will never satisfy. There are folks in your company who are not happy, think they know better, believe they are entitled or are just plain...nuts."
Being "cooperative" and "playing nice" with them...will only show weakness on your part, they will be emboldened and will continue their destructive ways. And no amount of advertising or public relations can mend the damage they will do internally and externally.
So, what do you do? Here are three steps we think you should consider:
Constructive Disagreement or a Train Wreck? Not every confrontation is a ticking bomb. You've got to be able to discern the difference. How do you know the difference? Listen to the choice of words. If there are too many "me" or "I" words in the discussion you've got an issue. Another tip: If it's the same story, over and over and over and the "complaint" becomes a habit: Trouble. Once you realize the other opinion is a malicious investment you need to act...fast...to shut it down.
Call Them On It - Had I not tried to "reason" with "Little Tommy Marker" and instead grabbed him by his collar I'd not have a scar on my head. We think the best way to deal with a train wreck is meet it head on firmly by stating the goal of the business, your attempts to mitigate the issue and then...shut up.
Remove Them - Nobody likes this part. But read the title of this post. Continuing to try to "get along" can ruin your business or the part in your hair. A board meeting, committee meeting, team meeting, or the customer service interaction that continues to be derailed by this behavior chews up valuable time...and money. Some people can not and will not be satisfied no matter what you say or do. It's best to "move on"...without them.
Tough stuff? Yes...but so is your business, mission and life.
Thanks for reading...and if you disagree....don't grab a hoe. Write me a note?
You can keep up with me on Twitter: @MichaelLibbie or here with your comment.