How to deal with a bully

Xiomara Spadafora Bully-001

As a small business owner, I have had to become a super-combo employee: receptionist, insurance agent, marketing director, and my husband’s favorite, assistant-to-the-President. I can see his satisfaction when he bosses me at the office, and I let him, because he knows that at home he is on my turf.

Out of all the tasks I do, the one I dread the most is picking up the phone. Sadly, the vast majority of callers are rude and desperate. They have little to no patience, except to be understood even in they are mumbling. When I ask them to spell their last names or company names, they shoot off letters at the speed of a machine gun. If it is difficult for a native English speaker, imagine the challenge it is for me!

Nevertheless, I can deal with grumps all day long, but not with bullies. Last Thursday I gave one of them a valuable lesson in manners and simple respect. I greeted the caller and immediately, without even saying hello, the voice of a man started shouting in my ear complaining about not receiving the refund of a commercial policy he had cancelled the week before.

I lowered my voice to calm him down and looked up the emails in reference to the matter. Then, I found what I was hoping for: he was wrong! Cordially and respectfully I told him that he had failed to return the form we emailed him for his signature. Nonetheless, instead of calming down, he started screaming louder which triggered in me a reaction I never expected.

A voice I didn’t know I had told the guy at top of my lungs, “Either you stop disrespecting me or this conversation is over!” As soon as I told him that he got quiet and a second later he said, “Oh! I am sorry, you are right I didn’t send the form. Can I fax it now?” Thank God this happened over the phone; otherwise I would have grab him by the neck like if I were in a MMA fight.

We spoke a couple more times because I wanted to confirm that we received the fax. During those moments you would have thought the guy drank a magic potion that transformed him from a great white shark into a little goldfish. At the end, he couldn’t say thank you enough.

After I hung up the phone, I could feel the veins in my forehead throbbing. My blood pressure probably was off the charts, and I could feel our employees looking over their cubicles thinking I was bipolar. I walked toward them and even though I apologized for the spectacle, I also let them know that I would support them if they ever ran across a customer that disrespected them in any way.

The golden rule in customer service states that the customer is always right. I don’t agree with it. I am a customer in many instances and never do I take advantage of the situation. First and foremost, I respect the receptionist at any company—whether in person or on the phone–and try my best to give clear and concise information.

Bullies—both male and female–roam with ease in any age, economic, or ethnic group and they don’t need to throw a single punch to show their oppressive nature. I am not a scrappy person, and I hate confrontation of any kind, but as I have gotten older, I have empowered myself in situations finding the right words and actions to counteract a bully.

This is definitely one of the many good things that come with the years. So, like the saying goes, grab the “bully” by the horns even if he or she is huffing and puffing.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Xiomara Spadafora

This column was sponsored by La’Rae Hendrix, Rodan+Fields Independent Consultant. Redefining the future of skincare. (904) 770-5278

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