Chocolate Pillow | Letting Go – The Art of Walking Away!
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Letting Go – The Art of Walking Away!

19 Jun Letting Go – The Art of Walking Away!

So, this subject may end up becoming book title number 3, or 4, depending if my next title gains traction (keep eyes peeled on that although it is slow going!)

There are many things you can do to deal with complaints and many ways in which you can respond to them.  This post is inspired by a lengthy email chain I had as a result of an enquiry from ‘Jane’ (not her real name!).  The original email was in relation to a particularly common situation that we have all faced:

  • A review was posted online that slated the property, the staff and in my opinion was quite a scathing an attack on the character of ‘Jane’ herself.  ‘Jane’ wanted to know how to respond to the false allegations in the review and also deal with the omitted details.
  • The guest had omitted several pieces of information regarding the reactions of staff to issues raised and had also failed to acknowledge their own poor behaviour including sexual references and innuendo towards staff.

Initially, the response to ‘Jane’ was quite comprehensive, spouted a few theories about behaviour and actually became quite in depth.  In all it rounded up with suggesting something I normally would not say:

Walk Away!

It may seem weird, but some situations you have to do just that!  There are some fights that really are not worth it, that you can just make worse by battling on with.  Letting go is hard, very very hard.  Particularly when you own a business, as opposed to being an employee.  When you run a business day to day, it in essence becomes your surrogate child, and you form an attachment with it known as ‘Ownership Principle‘ – basically this principle states that what you have, is yours and that thing you own is always better than that which is owned by others – think of yourself as a child with other children in school or your siblings…. now imagine you are given a red pencil and your friend/sibling is also given a red pencil – they are exactly the same and from the same packet of pencils.  However, inevitably there will be some form of comparison drawn at a point and you will be adamant that your pencil is better than theirs.  The same psychology applies all through your life, and you respond the same way internally all the time, what actually changes is your outward expression of the situation and your feelings about it.

As a child, when challenged on what you possess in a manner that states your item is less worthy than someone else, you respond like a child.  You may throw a tantrum or argue constantly about it, finding any reason at all to state that your ‘thing’ is better. Now think about growing up – at what point did anyone actually sit and explain that your belongings are not better than anyone else?  Did you have a favourite toy or book or game?  How possessive were you when someone else touched it or took it from you!  Now did anyone actually teach you how to deal with this as you grew up or did you simply begin to realise that throwing a tantrum in public wasn’t really acceptable?  That is my point!  You have never been told how to deal with the emotions, just how to repress them and masquerade over the pain and hurt that comes from someone saying that your amazing possession is in fact horrible and worthless!

Take for example a stool I recently received from my parents – its a stool from my grandparents who recently passed away, and was the stool I had in their house as a child, it was hand made for me and is personalised with a train engraved into the seat!  I cried when I saw it again, and my mum said I can use it to put a plant or something on.  To me, never will it be a plant holder, it is too precious!  It is mine and is better than any stool out there!  This attachment and bond is the same as someone has with their business – their business is (to them) the best out there and it hurts, actually quite deeply, to hear that someone hates your business.  Even years later after they have sold their business and moved on, to hear that business failed will still hurt as it was ‘theirs’ to begin with.

Restraining your emotions to the point of formulating a professional response when someone attacks your business in a review is extremely difficult, it is like holding your tongue at your child’s nativity play when another parent says your kid was out of tune!  But is it right to retain your emotions in this way?  Well….. yes, and no!

The reason I say no is that sometimes a release of the anger is extremely useful to your own wellbeing and can help re-focus.  Punch a beanbag, scream at a wall or throw stuff around – it all helps release that tension that builds up!  Please however ensure people are out of your way first!  I am not responsible for any injury caused by flying plants, smashed laptop screens or the results of an inanimate object smashing in to a wall!

Anyone that works with me knows how my stress builds, it builds and builds until I have to release it.  I can retain it with a guest but once they have gone, stuff can usually be thrown – always my own belongings and always never to cause actual damage!  Or I will scream at someone!  However, once that stress is out, deep breath and back to the task at hand – new starters who haven’t seen that can be quite scared, but it becomes the norm after the first instance, my rule is always ‘Never hurt anyone or anything!’.  This release is extremely therapeutic and I recommend it to anyone in high stress – a good scream is very relaxing!  I think it has something to do with the sudden exertion of energy that helps relax you!

Now that will not work for everyone, but that is how I deal with it.  Some people are very good at suppressing emotion.  This comes to the reason I said that yes, it is good to suppress your emotions.  Its because they are exactly that – emotions.

Emotion is by far the best and possibly worst aspect of human nature.  They are used for expression, understanding, persuasion and control.  But they include aspects such as jealousy, anger and hate.  Lets look at a simple emotional transaction that occurs:

Someone tells you your business is appalling and the worst they have encountered – this portrays contempt for your business, possibly anger, and it is perceived as a threat.  You respond on an instinctive level with a defensive approach – someone threatens your child, so do you walk away or stand and fight – you generally stand and fight.  The same happens with your business.

Much more interesting reading here about emotions

Think about this rationally now – someone shouts abuse at your child and you jump to the defensive.  You intervene and try to eliminate the threat as that is an instinctive thing to do.  Or, do you take your child and walk away?  The same with your business.  Walk away.

If you are at an impasse with something, walk away.  You will NEVER be in a worse situation for your business by walking away than you will by standing and fighting.  Sometimes the power is in not rising to the challenge.

So, after much emailing what was my response….?

Simply thank them for their feedback and version of events, and leave it at that.

This rule applies to all scenarios.  You have the right to remove yourself from a situation that you do not feel comfortable with.  You have the right as the business owner to decide what you do and don’t want to walk away from and what you want to tackle head on.  Rising to the person who has lied and mis-stated events or negated to include certain aspects of events will only lead to more arguments and a very petty squabble online.  Instead, just say ‘cheers for letting me know your opinion’ and walk away!

And ‘Jane’ is doing fine by the way!

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Matt Shiells-Jones
matt@chocolatepillow.com

Husband, Author, Hotel Manager and ambitious 'old cat lady'



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