Have you ever watched a professional baseball game and seen an athlete just go off on a fan in the stands who went just a little too far in his taunting? It’s not a pretty sight. And no matter how abusive the heckler was, the athlete is the one who ends up looking bad. Right or wrong, the assumption is that athletes are expected to rise above the crowd, not allowing the taunts, jeers, and comments to get to him. After all, the athlete is getting paid; the fan isn’t.
This situation is similar to what businesspeople face. You’ve heard the phrase, “The customer is always right – even when they’re wrong.” That means that you sometimes have to bite your tongue and move forward, even when an objective observer would say you were “right.” Here are five reasons you should always take the high road:
- You gain karma. Putting positive energy into the universe will bring positive experiences back to you.
- You never know what’s happening behind the scenes. The person screaming at the center fielder may just have found out he has colon cancer and is venting his fear. The person sending you a nasty email may have just found out her daughter is suffering from epilepsy. Giving others an undeserved helping of grace might help them when they need it most.
- You can’t really “win.” With customers (and heckling fans) you never win, even if you “win.” Don’t get into a spitting contest when squashing them like a bug will just make you look bad.
- You won’t waste time or energy. Some people are just grumpy, looking for some place to blow off steam. Fighting back only fuels the fire. Direct your energy where it can be put to best use.
- Your mom was right. Remember when she told you that the people talking behind your back were just jealous? A lot of times, that’s true. The fact that people are aiming their squirt guns your way is a sign that you’re succeeding, and the more you succeed, the more it will happen.
Yes, it’s hard to ignore the hecklers. But here are some ways you can block out the jeers and taunts:
- Imagine them as little children. If a two-year-old was throwing a tantrum, you’d treat them with more compassion and less anger, so imagine them that way.
- Breathe deep. When you think you’re being attacked, it’s easy to fall into that “fight or flight” response. Breathing deeply helps clear the adrenaline from your body.
- Bring in a third party. If a response is required and you cannot answer without anger or emotion, have an objective third party answer for you. Many business people outsource their customer support email for this particular reason.
Your time and energy is precious – this is especially true when you are working from home. Invest it where you’ll get good things in return.
Spring is coming up this week! Personally, I can’t wait! It’s been a long winter and I am so ready for warmer weather!
With the coning of Spring also means the return of baseball. Now, I love all sports. But, America’s favorite pastime isn’t great just for enjoyment and relaxation purposes; it’s also the source of numerous life and business lessons. After all, some of our culture’s most popular sayings (“You can’t win ’em all,” “He really hit a home run that time,” and “He was out before he reached First Base,” for example) come from the diamond.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to go over some business lessons that we can learn from baseball. Even if you don’t like sports – or if you are not working from home just yet – you will learn from these lessons.
Lesson Number One: It’s a Long Season
The Major League Baseball season stretches from April to October, and includes over 160 regular league games. And that doesn’t include pre-season scrimmages or playoff match-ups. With each game lasting an approximate 2.5 hours, that’s a lot of time on the diamond!
What happens in the first inning of the first game in the pre-season has little bearing on who the pennant winner will be. The season lasts a long, long (and some say TOO long) time. By the time the season wraps up, the average batter has been in the box over 500 times. Sometimes they get a hit, but more often, they get out. But that first time up to bat doesn’t set the tone for their season – unless they let it.
Business is the same way. While any one “pitch,” customer interaction, or promotion may seem of the utmost importance — and it is, in that moment — in the overall scheme of things, it is only one piece of a larger mosaic. Yes, great players play hard every pitch, but they also know how to pace themselves and shake off a missed strike and move ahead.
In your business, you need that perspective. Yes, you want to hit a home run each and every time you are at bat, and you want to make a play every time the game comes your way, but chances are you are going to flub a few easy pop-ups, and miss a few easy strikes. That is just the nature of the game.
Sometimes, your perfectly crafted sales page does not convert. Sometimes, an unhappy customer remains unhappy no matter how hard you try to fix the situation. Sometimes, a great product doesn’t sell well. Sometimes you can figure out why, while other times you just have to let it go and move forward, realizing that you will have hundreds of other interactions and opportunities to make your season a winning one.
To put things in perspective, the best hitters in baseball typically have a batting average of around .300. That means every ten times they get up to bat, they fail to get on base seven times. And these are the best of the best! Even the venerable Babe Ruth had a lifetime batting average of only .342.
On a team level, most clubs are striving for a winning season — meaning they win more than they lose. That should be your goal, too — to win more than you lose. And when you do lose — clients, accounts, m
ailing list subscribers — dust your cleats off and try again.