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        Home Business Tips : Dealing with Difficult Customers.

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        Another AHBBO Article
        Standing Up to School Yard Bullies

        © 2015 Elena Fawkner

        Picture it.  You run your own business.  You've worked long and
        hard for the past 18 months to get where you are today.  Long
        hours, no weekends, anxiety attacks in the middle of the night
        worrying about whether you're going to be able to meet expenses
        for the month.  Your phone rings.  You answer it.  "Stop sending
        me your rubbish!", the belligerent voice at the other end yells
        in your ear before slamming down the receiver.  "Fruitcake", you
        mutter to yourself, dismissing the caller from your mind as you
        turn to more important things.

        The phone rings again.  You answer it again.  "Where the hell
        is that information I asked you for yesterday afternoon? You call
        yourself a professional?!", another belligerent voice bellows
        in your ear before slamming down the receiver.  If you'd been
        given the chance to respond before being attacked, you might
        have been able to explain that the information so charmingly
        requested was put in the mail yesterday afternoon and would
        be arriving with the morning's mail.  But, of course, you weren't
        given the opportunity.

        You get another couple of calls a day for the next month, just
        like this.  What's going on here?  What's wrong with the world
        all of a sudden?  That's what you'd think, right?  Has everyone
        lost all sense of how to relate to their fellow human beings?
        Is this really how people have been raised to interact with one

        Of course not.  Such a thing would never happen in the real
        world would it?  Oh sure, you'll get the occasional nutter.  But
        you wouldn't expect one or two a day for weeks on end would
        you?  No.  The world and the people who populate it just don't
        operate that way.  If they did, no-one would get anything done. 
        Everyone would be sniping and retaliating and feeling generally
        hostile towards everyone they came in contact with in case it
        was one of THEM.  Thank heavens the real world doesn't work
        that way.

        So why do we put up with it when it comes to the online
        world?  If you've started an online business of your own, you've
        no doubt heard over and over again that you have to develop
        a thick skin.   Why do we have to expect and accept bad
        treatment from certain people we deal with online?  We
        wouldn't put up with it offline.  So why is it something we tell
        each other to ignore, turn a blind eye to, don't respond to lest
        we make ourselves a target just because it happens online?

        Enough is enough.  It is NOT acceptable to treat each other
        this way whether online or offline.  And those who will ignore it,
        turn a blind eye and not respond appropriately, only perpetuate
        the problem.

        Particularly over last two or three months, I've received my
        fair share of episodes like this.  All newsletter publishers do.
        It "goes with the territory", as they say.  They still surprise me,
        even now, though.  I wonder what kind of an individual is it who
        goes feral (there's no other word for it), because I send them my
        newsletter?  They asked to receive it after all.  But maybe
        they forgot they subscribed?  Maybe someone subscribed them
        using their email address and they didn't read the message they
        received in response telling them how to unsubscribe themselves?

        Or perhaps their email program doesn't work properly and
        when they click on the link at the end of my newsletter telling
        them that if they want to unsubscribe all they have to do is
        send a blank email to
        and instead of the email program automatically putting
        the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line, as this coding
        is intended to do, it leaves the whole thing intact and as a
        result the hapless subscriber receives an error message
        saying that the address is not a valid email address.

        Perhaps these people have good reason not to send me a
        simple email saying "Hi Elena, I've been trying to unsubscribe
        but I keep getting an error message.  Can you help me?",
        in response to which I would simply unsub them manually.
        Perhaps these people have a good reason to instead send
        me personally abusive email accusing me of spamming and
        scamming, and God knows what else. 

        Perhaps that prospective advertiser the other week who placed
        an advertising order but didn't follow up with the ad copy
        had a good reason for rudely proclaiming, when I followed
        up by email, "I tried the form on your site but it didn't work. 
        It suggest you fix it NOW.  When will my ad go out and
        how many subscribers will receive it?".  Maybe that prospective
        advertiser had a good reason for emailing me a second time,
        less than an hour later (and well before I had even read the first
        message) saying "You still haven't answered me.  When will
        my ad run and how many subscribers do you have?!!!"  (Maybe
        these same people also have a good reason for never using fewer
        than three exclamation marks to make their point.) 

        Maybe they had a good reason.  But I can't for the life of me
        imagine a good enough one.

        No doubt that particular would-be advertiser is sitting there
        scratching his or her head (this person didn't even have the
        courtesy of including their name in the email), wondering why
        my response was to issue a refund for their ad purchase and tell
        them to go advertise somewhere else.

        You know what?  I DON'T CARE what these people think
        of me.  I'm DELIGHTED when people like that unsubscribe
        from my newsletter.  I DON'T WANT to do business with
        people like this.

        Why do we take it?  Why is this sort of behavior and
        attitude accepted online when we would never tolerate it
        in a bricks and mortar environment?  Why?  Because we
        would never HAVE to tolerate it in the so-called "real world".
        People would never DREAM of behaving like this in their
        "real life".  Who on earth would approach someone they
        wanted to do business with in such a fashion?  Certainly
        not someone who had any sense of common courtesy,
        respect or dignity for themselves or anyone else they
        came in contact with.  They'd just be avoided for the mad
        hatters they are.

        But something happens to certain people when they get
        behind a computer screen.  The anonymity of it emboldens
        them, allows them to act out with faceless strangers the
        frustrations that build up within them as a result of their own
        inadequacies in dealing with the "real world": strangers
        who, they have well come to know, will just accept what's
        thrown at them without any risk of retaliation because the
        recipients fear more of the same. 

        These are the very same kids (or people very much like
        them) that you and I remember from our early school years. 
        They picked on the one person that they perceived to be the
        least able and likely to retaliate.  There's a word for people
        like this: bully.  And all bullies are, at bottom, nothing but gutless
        cowards.  Pure and simple.

        I for one have had enough of it.  All we achieve by ignoring
        these idiots is reinforcing the wrongheaded idea that it is
        acceptable to treat people this way.  That it doesn't matter
        how you treat people if you're not face to face with them and
        you're never likely to be. 

        I doubt any of us really has any question that the Internet is
        here to stay.  It will continue to play a bigger and bigger part
        in our everyday lives.  The day may well come, and perhaps a
        lot sooner than any of us expects, when we will no longer have
        to leave the house to go to work.  We may all be working out
        of the comfort of our own homes from our computers.  Online
        forms of communication may become the predominant way
        of communicating, at least when it comes to our working
        lives.  What kind of world are we creating by allowing this
        groundswell of unfocused hatred against our fellow humans to
        go unchecked?

        Don't take it.  You deserve better and your business deserves
        better.  There are some things you just shouldn't have to
        take just to make a buck.  Call me a heretic, but some business
        just isn't worth having.


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        Elena Fawkner is editor of Home-Based Business Online. Best business ideas and opportunities for your home-based or online business.

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