Saturday, 14 March 2015

Things I've learnt about people. 14.03.15

One of the advantages of being self-employed is that you have the privilege of dealing with your customers directly. One of the disadvantages is that you are not allowed to kill any of them, regardless of how tempted you might be.

Here's a list of things I've learnt about people as I was going about my business:

There is no upside to going the extra mile for those people who ask you to do so for nothing. You are not earning their gratitude, because they are parasitic, egocentric entities incapable of entertaining that kind of feeling. By giving them a little something, all you've done is ensured that next time they'll expect to get that and ask for a bigger something on top. 'Normal' customers, with a basic sense of consideration and fairness, will quite simply not ask you to do extraordinary things unless the circumstances are exceptional. If they are forced into it, they will immediately offer some kind of reward or remuneration for it.

People who apologise for an unacceptable behaviour as they are doing it are not at all sorry. They are just operating under the assumption that an apology will be enough to force you to tolerate the behaviour. They are exploiting your politeness.

People who justify their bad behaviour with a label (e.g. "anger management issues") don't have a problem; they have an excuse. They are using that label so they don't have to change their behaviour. People who really have a problem and are trying to deal with it will be sincerely apologetic, not self-righteous. They will be asking for your forgiveness, not demanding your forbearance. 

The vast majority of people who shout or threaten are utterly shocked if anyone ever shouts or threatens back. Not only they apparently believe that they have the monopoly on it, but they also recognise it as an entirely inappropriate behaviour when anyone else is doing it.

The more in the wrong someone is, and the less of a justification they have for their shortcomings, the more they will try to blame it all on you - and they will absolutely believe that they are in the right, and it's you who has let them down. This has nothing to do with you, although it's happening at you. It is the internal mechanism they use to tolerate living with their own inadequacies: everything is always someone else's fault.

People who demand that you to tolerate them letting you down because their life got in the way will be completely unsympathetic if and when your life does the same. They don't have a personal relationship with you, based on mutual understanding of life's difficulties. They are using a facsimile of personal connection with you because it suits their purposes. In reality, they just believe that their own issues are of paramount importance. 

People with a problem they are not trying to resolve will give you half truths about it. They give you the stories they tell themselves to justify allowing the problem to persist. These half truths are so common that, after a while, you will learn to recognise and translate them. For instance, "my dog is shy with strangers" is likely to mean "it will try to eat your face off".

When people ask for something so extraordinarily absurd that you are flabbergasted by the sheer audacity of it, it pays to repeat it back to them in plain terms. Real life examples:

"So, you want me to start work early so you can pay me for a day less?"
"So, you want me to train you up for free so you can set up a competing business less than ten miles away?"
"So, you are saying the roads are too bad for you to drive from your house to here, but they are not too bad for me to drive from here to your house?"
If their answer is "I didn't mean it like that", ask them how they meant it. I've yet to meet one of them who could come up with an alternative explanation.

People who are rude, inconsiderate, demanding, pushy, or just a total pain in the ass before they are even your customers will be infinitely worse once you take their business. They already have a habit of behaving badly; you do not want to allow them to feel entitled to that behaviour.

People who go out of their way to badmouth your competitors to you, will badmouth you to everyone else. Gossips are neither selective nor fair: they are not exchanging useful information, they are merely enjoying a  hobby.  Engage in gossip with gossips at your peril.

People who choose to believe in 'facts' that are obviously incorrect will not thank you for pointing out the truth. Their egos and/or their belief system are wrapped up in whatever claptrap they choose to believe. All you can do is work around the nonsense. (Last month's winners were, in a strange parallel, 'children only lie if they feel threatened' and 'dogs only bite if they feel threatened'.)

The 'I can't afford that' people want you to provide goods or services for nothing, because they need or want them but can't afford them. They are incapable of gratitude, because, for ineffable reasons, they believe that their poverty makes the world at large responsible for their needs, even when those needs are self-generated.

The 'but I could do that myself for free' people believe that their amateur status entitles them to pay professionals a lower fee, or nothing. Note: they do not respond well to "well, there you go, then" as an answer.

There are customers you just don't want, because whatever income you may derive from them will not be worth the hassle of dealing with them. Once you learn to recognise them, lie to them and get them out of your way. Do not be tempted to tell them the actual reasons for your aversion to their business. Formulate a good, non-controversial, standard excuse to give out that is all about you (e.g. we can't handle a job that size, we are booked up until next year, we are washing our hair, whatever) and stick to it.  Just keep them out of your life. 

1 comment:

Dessa said...

I am a licensed professional tattoo artist of almost 26 years. I own a reputable business and can relate to every single item you mentioned in this blog. People don't NEED tattoos but they try pulling out every stop to get you to do your work for next to nothing or free. It doesn't matter I throw away, literally over $7,000 worth of supplies to make it safe for everyone. They don't care. They want it cheap....well, I have verbally booted people out the door, always with a smile and somehow I'm the bitch for not bowing to their demands.