Quit Being So Nice!

My friend, Stacy, is a well-known marketing maven, having had several books published by major publishers. She called me in a complete panic on Saturday morning. Apparently, she had just had the latest in a series of run-ins with a former collaborator, Stan, and couldn’t figure out what to do.

Stacy and Stan had written a couple of books together about a decade ago. He began undercutting her right from the beginning — they agreed that he’d do the East coast promo, and she’d do the West Coast, but of course, he booked a fair amount of the West Coast promo for himself. They had agreed to do the TV shows together, but he just booked shows, and never told her, so of course, he did them alone. After their first couple of successful books, he got a four book contract for himself, without ever mentioning to her that he was even thinking of more books.

In the last few years, Stan’s begun one of those seminar businesses where people pay several hundred dollars to be told that they, too, can have his success, if they just buy more courses from him, and from the other people who are selling from his stage. (Of course, he’s paid half of everything everyone sells from the stage.) Stan keeps inviting Stacy to be on his stage, but only as part of a panel, or in a very short time slot — and tells her she can’t sell from the stage in that case.

Last weekend, he invited her to be a part of a panel again. It wasn’t worth her time to travel to LA for just that, but she figured that if she taught her usual Marketing 101 course on Thursday and Friday, then she could work the panel in on Saturday, and maybe schmooze a little and pull in a few new clients. It happened that Stan’s ‘seminar’ and Stacy’s course were held in the same hotel, a hotel they’ve both used for years.

When Stan found out that Stacy was teaching (all of 9 students) in the same hotel he was preaching his ‘seminar’ to several hundred, he hit the roof — and began screaming at her in front of others. (Did he think he owned the hotel?)

Believe it or not, Stacy was worried about how she could fix this! She was worried that she’d offended a ‘heavy hitter’ in her industry.

As I pointed out, there was nothing much to lose — he had never helped her, only himself. While she had picked up some clients from networking at his events, she could definitely live without them. And given his explosive nature (this was not the first time he’d blown up over pretty much nothing), why did she want to deal with him at all? Why expose herself to this horrendous treatment?

Stacy felt that way for a number of very common reasons, listed below. Do some of these apply to you, too?

** As a spiritual person, you feel that you must be accepting – Acceptance does not mean being a door mat for other people’s bad behavior. Rather, it means accepting that this person is acting however he (or she) is acting, and that you can’t change it.

The only choice you have is how to respond. By allowing someone to treat you badly, you are depriving that person of the lessons he needs to learn to grow. So a good way to operate is to have some boundaries, to have the attitude that the person can act however he chooses, and that you will not be present for it. That is, ‘do whatever you want — anywhere but here.

** You feel that if a relationship isn’t working out it’s your fault, so it’s your responsibility to smooth things over It takes two people, acting with integrity, respect, honor and mutual appreciation, to have a good working relationship.

Own your own part — are you acting honorably, respecting the other person? And is the other person honoring and respecting you?

If the answer to this second question is ‘no’, then it is your responsibility to bring it up with the other person, along with clear consequences for not acting honorably and respectfully towards you. If this is not realistic, that is, if the other person is not likely to listen to your point of view, especially if he is in a position of power over you, then your only responsibility is to take care of yourself and get away from the situation.

** You worry about negative consequences of letting a relationship end, especially on a bad note. — Yes, there can be negative consequences, sometimes serious ones. Most often, though, these are temporary, because when you remove a less than positive relationship from your life, you make room for better relationships. 
More than that, every time you allow yourself to be treated badly, you damage your own self-esteem. How can you think well of yourself if you are clearly allowing others to think less of you? Even more, each hit to your self-esteem makes it even harder to extricate yourself from this relationship and others like it. (How do you think battered spouses get that way? It’s not all at once, it’s a thousand little cuts, each a tiny bit more serious.)
Stacy heard all of this, and decided that the email she had sent explaining the situation was more than enough. She took a deep breath (or three) and decided to let it go — and enjoy her newly found free time in LA.
Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.