Mean People

Written April 26, 2018


Have you ever had those people in your life, whether work, social or personal, that no matter how hard you try to please them they are just down right mean? You work as hard as you can to accommodate, adjust and make the situation better, yet everything you try just doesn’t seem to work. At the end of the day they are just mean by nature.

There is a point in the relationship where mean actually becomes bullying and if you have experienced it you know that it can be down right frustrating when you are doing everything you can to turn the relationship around. Over the years I have discovered that those very people are people that just aren’t used to being talked back to. I learned that the more we take from them the more they dish it out and are always ready and willing to heap it on you as long as you allow it to happen.

Many years ago I had a client when I lived out west that made my life miserable. I was in the client service area of my company and we were taught that the client is always right and you accommodate them no matter what. I was young and naive at the time and in my first client management role. I would go into meetings and the client would yell and scream. If he got mad enough he would pick up a chair and throw it across the room. I could never do anything right no matter how hard I tried and he was always ready and willing to let me know it.

One day my phone rang and I picked it up and he was on the other end. Before I could get a word out, he told me that he had a member on the other line and he was going to bring the member on with us and rip me apart in front of him. Before I could say anything, he did just that and proceeded to berate me for 15 minutes with the member on the line. When I hung up the phone I sat there in amazement, shaking and made a decision that would change how I dealt with mean people for the rest of my life.

I picked up the phone and called him back. He answered and I said, “now let me speak”. I told him that I go out of my way to ensure that he and his account are taken care of. I work day and night to ensure that we delivered the service that they expected and that he would not find anyone more dedicated. I told him that he would never speak to me like that again (his call was actually laced with expletives that I couldn’t even repeat here) and if he did I would ask to be removed from his account, he could deal with someone new, and I didn’t deserve to be treated the way he was treating me. I wasn’t going to stand for it anymore.

That moment completely changed our relationship. He no longer berated me, he didn’t yell in meetings, he even wound up inviting me over to his house for dinner with his family. Once he knew that I was no longer going to take it, it wasnt “fun” for him anymore.

We all have people like that in our lives. The question is whether or not we allow them to sap our energy and accommodate them to the point that we give them that power over us? Or, do we take our power back and provide an ultimatum that gives them an opportunity to change, or at least show us there is no hope, at which point we have to decide if they really deserve to be in our lives. When we work every day to to put good out into world, we deserve good back and that my friends is a reason to smile.

Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles today.


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