The Snarky Girl’s Guide to Surviving Business – Attitude
I have an attitude.
It’s not necessarily a bad attitude, though it’s not always a good one either. I’d comfortably describe it as ‘snarky’ or even overly cynical. My parents raised me with enough tact and respect to understand when to watch my mouth, for instance. In different situations, my sarcasm can keep itself tucked neatly behind my tongue, waiting later to bite my reflection with the perfect response. But I would be lying if I said every single thought I had was positive and that I’ve always made it out of a situation without a retort.
Unfortunately, this is business. And business is a ‘Yes‘ field. Your clients will always expect you to FIGURE IT OUT, your leads will walk away from unsure shrugs, and your bank account will weep with agony if you can’t hide negative feelings. In business, smiles and nods prevail. When they don’t, you don’t.
So how the hell do I manage?
It’s not easy, but I do five things:
Shut the hell up.
This is more important than I can accurately convey. Shutting the hell up when I have one of my more pessimistic thoughts is key. Wiping my face of expression (or at least going for the idiotic smile save), and just listening has saved me over and over again. The great thing about being a very introspective person is having a tight hold on what I’m feeling at any given time. The snark doesn’t sneak up on me – it slowly builds and transforms, giving me time to fix my face and mouth. Remember, people: not everything is meant to be said, especially not to potential or current clients.
Excel, Excel, Excel
There is nothing to be said when I’m doing right. When my clients are getting what they wanted (and, most of the time, more), I am the wind under their wings. They’re singing to me, complimenting me, sending me expensive bouquets. Well, maybe not any of those things, but they’re smiling, I’m paid, and we’re all happy. This is where I want to be with every client I come across. Doing ‘just enough’ is not good enough.
That’s not always possible – this is life and things will go wrong. So I follow this second rule by paying close attention to how hard I’m pushing myself and the type of work I’m putting out. If I’m not doing amazing work, I try harder. If trying harder doesn’t work, I’m not cut out for that client. I would rather be honest and upfront with them than risk an even bigger hit to my reputation and spike in my stress levels. Excelling in your field is about being honest with yourself and your client (more on limitations and understanding them later, though).
Setting parameters is also a biggie – don’t let a client create a situation where you’re left unsure. I create very detailed SOW’s and only deviate if I know I can enthrall with the extra work.
The Old Smile and Nod
Some people are terrible. This is an unavoidable fact. As a person who runs her own family, cleans her own home and takes care of her own life, being talked down to is a huge NO. There’s a difference between someone being unspeakably rude (in which case they should be dropped) and someone being unpleasant. In the latter case, I whip out the old smile and nod.
As a business person, you have to get used to the fact that not everyone you deal with will be sunshine. Some people are used to having a vicious storm around them. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of your business or won’t appreciate your time. I give the old smile and nod whenever someone makes uncalled for (but not necessarily nasty) remarks, oversteps me, or creates unneeded tension. Later, I come up with a way to combat what was said or done diplomatically. This mostly means sticking up for myself or my work in a way that could not and will not be construed as malicious or sarcastic.
Control my Atmosphere
My main method of business communication is email. There’s probably no better invention when it comes to my snarkiness.
Crowds of people make me anxious and anxiety makes me talk. I ramble quite efficiently – enough so that potential clients have mentioned it. When I first started out, I met the client wherever they wanted to meet – malls, coffee shops, even a movie theater once. And while I still think you need to put as much effort as possible into first meetings, especially earlier in your career, there should be a limit. You cannot let a client dictate your comfort level.
Now, I start out with an email and a call. Once I know things are moving forward (and if the client is local and wants to meet), we move up to something calm. A coffee shop that’s nowhere near the downtown area. A walking trail if they’re active. A small, quiet restaurant. I’m a lover of food so any place that will give me a chance to stuff my face is a winner, especially if it lends the ability to talk comfortably and hear well.
There’s nothing wrong with picking a meeting place that won’t leave you out of money and out of your mind. It also keeps my snarkiness from rearing its ugly head, and that’s what I want.
Know my Limitations
Good work is ongoing work. I stick to my guns and understand my strengths in terms of what I can do for a business. They are, in a very particular order:
- Gabbing in a gifted way (brand awareness)
- Social Media Management
- Creative Ideas and Implementation
- Website Design
I am not a sales person unless I’m behind a phone (see my second strength). Most of all, I am not a miracle worker. I make sure that I don’t oversell myself to clients so that we both avoid vicious levels of stress. Succeeding means putting my best foot forward and keeping it far from my mouth. And every time I’ve ignored this rule I have hit the ground HARD.
With these methods, I have managed to keep my business afloat, smart mouthed and all. And you can, too.
If you can’t…well…I’m sure I could do it for you. *wink wink
Trey Briggs is a walking pile of words. She writes a variety of content for businesses, herself, and her uninterested children. She can be found completely ignoring her own social media (in favor of her client’s social accounts) on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Work is important, so hire her soon.
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