Are you running a biz and super sensitive?
Do your nerves get easily frazzled from unsubscribes, aggressive competitors or rude clients?
Tempted to crawl back into your safe little introvert shell and never come out again when you encounter some online hater tots?
If that sounds like you, you may find the entrepreneur world to be a rough ride at times. Your mission may be to help people but sometimes even your best intentions may open you up to situations that rattle you down to your sweet, soft core.
Listen up: if you are going to be in business, you’ll need to toughen up a bit. That doesn’t mean you have to be a full time thug (although gangsta mode can come in handy at appropriate times). But what it does mean is that you will need to create a thicker skin as well as some strategies to conserve your energy and protect your sensitive self.
If that sounds too hardcore, another mindset is to treat difficult business situations as a spiritual practice. That means being present with the energy, practicing non-attachment and compassion – and some mighty big letting go work. (PS you can be mindful and have boundaries at the same time.)
Here are some gentle but firm game plans to help you get a handle on some of the most challenging situations you may encounter:
Rude clients. You do not have to put up with this, period. No one has the right to treat you badly, even if they are unhappy with your work. The first line of defense is to have strong policies in place (I recommend that you make them visible on your website – and if you are doing work that requires a contract, your policies should be spelled out clearly on the contract as well.). If an issue comes up, those policies will protect you.
However, some people just don’t get it and may work overtime to push your buttons. If a customer continues to go the negative route, you’ll need to open up a dialogue and set some boundaries. I’m a big fan of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships (Nonviolent Communication Guides) from Marshall B. Rosenberg. This book teaches you how to communicate in a manner that is compassionate but proactive. Utilize the information in this book to deal with anyone who acts boorish. If the person insists on continuing the bad behavior or if it escalates, show them the door and refuse to do business with them again. It is perfectly fine to fire clients that are abusive. Remember: you must teach people how you want to be treated. They don’t have to like you but they will learn to respect you if you hold your ground.
You send out your latest newsletter only to see a bunch of unsubscribes. Rule number one: stop looking at those! Really. This is usually nothing personal. Sometimes people unsubscribe because they are simply trying to declutter their inboxes. Other times, they may no longer be interested in your work (ouch!). And then there are those people that may have opted in to get your freebie but have no interest in ever hiring you. This is no biggie and you should not waste one ounce of energy obsessing over those stats. Instead, lavish your love and attention on the clients that are your biggest fans. That’s a better use of your time. (Practice this mantra: it’s about PEOple, not SEO.)
A disgruntled client goes on one of those review sites and leaves a bad review. The fear of a bad review can make any entrepreneur leery to be in the public eye. Worry about how it may affect future business could cause you to lose a lot of sleep. Before you let a negative review throw you into a state of despair, consider the source. Is this someone you value? If so, use this as an opportunity to learn. Open up a discussion on the site or in private and see if you can find a way to help them have a better experience the next time. Don’t be afraid to hear valid critiques as this can help you become better at your business. That being said, if this opinion is coming from someone unreasonable or cruel, you’ll need to dismiss it. Don’t let it take up space in your head. Remember, it’s their viewpoint and they are entitled to it. Not everyone is going to like you or your work – and that is fine. Send them as much positive energy as you can and let it go.
An aggressive competitor tries to muscle in on your turf. Competition is not a bad thing – in fact, it can light a fire under your bum and give you an incentive to keep innovating. That is always the best attitude to apply in a situation like that. Also, you may want to remove the word competitor from your vocabulary and instead replace it with colleague. This simple mind shift softens the energy immediately. Remember this: there is enough work for all. As long as they don’t cross the line into shady unethical behavior, you need to put your worries about “competition” on ice. Just keep on upping your own game.
An online troll slams you on a social media site or attacks you on your blog. It’s hard to understand what would compel a stranger to go on a blog or other social media platform and smear someone. It’s also too easy to let this sort of haterade get under your skin. But remember this: hurt people hurt people. It’s a mighty sad person who goes out of their way to waste their energy attacking others, especially those they don’t know on a personal basis. One has to wonder if they would act like this if they were face to face with the person they were picking on (doubtful). Ultimately, this sort of crap is not even worth addressing. As my wise friend Amy says: “do not get in a pissing match with a skunk”. Ignore, moderate comments, delete, block, send them a blessing and move on. Never engage in an exchange with someone who is disrespectful or looking for a war. In online battles, no one wins. You’ve got people to serve and better things to do. Seriously.
A colleague suddenly turns on you and begins talking smack about your business. This can really suck but the best solution is to have a heart to heart to see if there is a way to reach a truce. And if you did indeed do something to warrant this anger, apologize immediately and work to remedy the situation. If they don’t want to hug it out, respect that, forgive, bless them and step off. Business relationships can and do end badly. Chalk this up as part of the game and focus on surrounding yourself with supportive and helpful peers.
“Big shots” ignore you. It’s a bummer when you reach out and get a cold shoulder but once again, do not take this personally. It may not be that they are stuck up – it might be that they do not have time to answer every single request that comes their way. They probably have loads of people in their grill asking for “things”. Put yourself in their position and imagine how it must feel to have every Tom, Dick and Harriet wanting something from you. Work on practicing compassion and non-judgment. And remember this: they are only human just like you. No better, no worse. Don’t elevate them in your mind and please don’t grovel to get in their good graces.
You’ve been asked to give a speech and you’re terrified/sweating bullets. Public speaking can send anyone into a tizzy! So don’t worry, you are not alone. First of all, BREATHE. Secondly, take courses in public speaking as that can help you learn how to be calmer when in front of a group. Practice your speech with a trusted ally until you get comfortable. See if you can find a local Toastmasters group – they are great for helping nervous speakers transition into seasoned pros. I also highly recommend Transformational Speaking by Gail Larson. This book is amazing and perfect for soulful biz owners that are moving onto the main stage.
What it all boils down to is this: there will always be situations (in business and otherwise) that will challenge you emotionally. The sensitive entrepreneur can survive and thrive even in a dog eat dog climate if they treat their business as an opportunity to practice mindfulness and boundaries. Always remember to center yourself, take nothing personally, stick to your policies and move on as quickly as possible. The more you practice those simple rules, the easier it will be to run your game like the boss you are meant to be.
Further reading: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz. Apply the truths in this book to the way you handle your business and you’ll be a better, happier entrepreneur for it.
“My world is about FEELings. Sometimes, these feelings run so deep i fear i will drown. Creatively, it’s a dream to be so sensitive. In real life, it’s exhausting, as i tread water to keep myself from sinking.” ~ Jaeda DeWalt
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2013