For some reason, this seems to be the year I’m hearing more colleagues than ever telling stories about how they are being disrespected by clients or other wedding pros. I’m not talking about the occasional upset client email or the wedding pro who is gossiping about you…I’m talking about blatant, intentional disrespect…clients screaming at wedding pros, colleagues making derogatory comments to you or your staff…
So, what’s the appropriate response when you’re disrespected by a client or colleague? Here’s my strategy for handling situations when I’ve been disrespected:
- Consider the variables about the situation – did the disrespect occur on the wedding day where there was a ton of pressure, nerves were flying high, etc.? Or was it just randomly out of the blue? If it was on a wedding day, I tend to be a bit more understanding since I know there is an extreme amount of pressure and sometimes people just crack under pressure. If it’s randomly out of the blue, then it’s especially alarming to me and I know that it’s something I need to address asap.
- Address the situation – if someone is upset and they’re flying off the handle at you, the goal is to help calm them down. Sometimes I’ve learned this isn’t possible if they’re so heated, so you may need to physically walk away to create a barrier between you and take a breather. Or, if it’s a nasty email you received, you may need to emotionally walk away from the email for a day or two before you consider your response so that you remove your personal emotions from the communication. If it makes you feel better, draft an email and keep it in your drafts folder for 24 hours so you can sit on your thoughts and make sure you want to send what you’ve written.
- Let the person vent – once they have vented all of their frustrations out on you, use the line, “I understand you’re frustrated/disappointed and I regret that you feel this way. Is there anything I can do to fix the situation and make things better?”
- If they continue – to be upset, swear, degrade you, etc. after trying to calm them down and fix the problem – this is where you MUST set boundaries. My first job was at Nordstrom and I will never forget the sign that hung above the employee entrance every day I walked into work that read “The Customer is Always Right”. As much as I truly believe in this statement, when someone draws the line and treats me or my staff with disrespect, that’s where I feel we have to take a stand. The Customer is NOT always right if they are being disrespectful or degrading. This is where I would use the line, “I regret that you are upset with me, and I need to let you know that I feel you are disrespecting me because of X.” If the disrespect, harassment, etc. continues even after you confront the individual then you may need to bring in an attorney who can help to mediate the situation depending on how severe.
Bottom line? I have zero tolerance for being disrespected, and treating others with respect and dignity is a core value to me and my business. I expect others I do business with to share my same philosophy and I hold people to high standards. There is no room in the industry for being treated so poorly, and my hope is that every single wedding professional has the courage to know when to draw the line and stand up for yourself. You cannot be a doormat and let everyone walk all over you. So, the next time you’re challenged with a client or colleague who is disrespectful, please consider the above strategy and hold yourself in high regard. Your confidence, your self-esteem, your business, and your integrity is all at stake if you don’t. You deserve to be respected!