The sweet smell of wood smoke filled the air as we sat downstairs in the kitchen by the fire. I loved to hear my grandmother’s stories about my dad when he was young. Her eyes sparkled, and she smiled as she recalled him sitting on the stairs with a baseball bat across his knees.
To this day my dad is a gentle man. He rarely raises his voice. And he can be somewhat shy. But at age 7, when my grandmother found him on the stairs, he had had quite enough that day.
Taunted by his older sister’s persistent teasing, he had locked her in her room. And he was guarding the door fiercely with his bat.
Have You Ever Thought You Could Handle Some Clients Better If You Had A Bat?
Some clients have a knack for making your life a living hell. The same ones that are so demanding are the very ones that don’t pay on time. And your worst clients are so disorganized that they have you do nothing but putting out their fires.
These clients waste your time. These clients don’t pay. These clients cause an unending stream of frustration in your life. They zap your energy. They dampen your enthusiasm and your love for what you do.
But Do You Turn Them Out?
If you’re like me, you don’t. Crazy as it seems, you keep these painful clients. Instead of being clear, instead of being direct with them, you string them along. And you divide yourself in half.
Part of you is nice, cooperative and very much amenable. The other part of you complains, both inwardly and with your friends. Internally, you resist this client like the plague. Internally, your heart sinks when they come back with something more for you to do. Yet outwardly you pretend to get along.
This Division Is Tearing You Apart
Notice the effect of this division on your life. How does it affect your health? How does it affect your work? How does it affect your happiness at home?
When I get into this mode I have trouble sleeping. I’m tense inside. And I’ve got a short fuse with my partner too. And most of all, I don’t want to go to work. I procrastinate on projects, and I live in fear of deadlines that I don’t really care about.
So why can’t I stand up for myself, and put this client out of my misery?
Because It’s Hard To Stand Up For Yourself When You’re Angry
When you’re angry, you instinctively know that you’re weak. When you’re angry, you’re focused on the other person, and all the injustices that they have done. What you’re not focused on is you.
When you’re angry you can’t see that you’re a player on the field. It’s all about them, them, them. And this leaves you feeling helpless. And if you try to stand up for yourself it comes out as an explosion.
This is a very weak way to stand up for yourself.
When you stand up for yourself out of anger, it is nearly impossible for the other party to hear your sensibility over all the rage. There is zero possibility for understanding. And the incident almost always results in ill feelings, and bitter separation.
So How Can You Stand Up For Yourself Without Anger?
To stand up for yourself without anger requires clarity of mind. It requires that you are not confused about yourself, about what you want, or about your client. To get this kind of clarity requires that you question your thoughts and beliefs about the situation.
It Requires Some Meditation
You can start by writing down exactly what makes you mad about your client. You may write, “They don’t pay me on time.”
When you question this thought, you may find that your client actually does pays you on time more often than you give them credit for. And you may find that you don’t always deliver what you promise to them on time.
This starts to undermine the anger. You start to see that, in some ways, you are just like them. And the seeds of compassion begin to sprout.
Several Months Ago I Had A Problem Client
This client is a friend. And as a friend, I got confused about how to conduct business together. His needs were seemingly endless, and the more I did, the more he wanted me to do.
This would have been a good situation for business, except that he soon ran out of money, and couldn’t pay me for my services on time. I was frustrated until I began to question what I believed about the situation.
I Questioned Thoughts Like These
I questioned my belief that, “He needs me.” And I questioned the thought that, “He wants to take advantage of me.” When I questioned these thoughts here’s what I found.
I found that, in reality, he doesn’t need me to make his business work. In fact, I quit working for him, and now more than six months later, he is doing as well as ever.
I also saw that he was not trying to take advantage of me. He was just trying to make the impossible happen in his business, and was willing to take any help that he could get. By continuing to work without pay I was simply consenting to be a volunteer.
When I Saw This, I Could No Longer See Him As The Monster
When I questioned my thoughts about him, I couldn’t stay angry at him.
And when I decided to stop working for him, I let him know in a very fair manner. And we continue to be friends today. In fact, recently I’ve done some work for him again. But this time I made sure that I get paid in advance, and everything is working fine.
This is the result of me questioning my stressful thoughts about the situation. When I did, I found the clarity of mind to come up with a solution that works for both of us.
So How Do You Question Your Thoughts?
The method that I use for questioning my stressful thoughts is called The Work of Byron Katie, or The Work for short. It is a simple process that can be done alone or with a facilitator. And this process helps cut through the false beliefs that keep you stressing out. There is a complete description of how to do The Work on my website.
Bad clients are the ones that make you dread the drive to work. They are the ones that keep you from sleeping at night. And to get them off your back you have to stand up for yourself.
However, standing up for yourself out of anger can cause more problems than it solves. When you question the stressful thoughts that are making you angry you’ll see the same situation with more clarity. And when you do, you may find ways to stand up for yourself that don’t leave you feeling like a jerk.
To learn more about The Work, and how to do use it to question your stressful thoughts, read the article, “What Exactly Is The Work?”
When you do The Work on your problem clients, you may find that the only problem is what you’re believing about them. When you question those beliefs you may come to find that you actually enjoy standing up for yourself, and they may even like it too.
And best of all, you will no longer need a baseball bat to get your point across.
Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. He has been practicing The Work on an almost daily basis for over four years, and has been facilitating The Work for others for as long. To learn more about The Work visit www.theworkasmeditation.com.
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