When It's All Gone WrongOMG, it’s all gone wrong!

Imagine some possible scenarios you may find yourself in as a woman in business:

  • You do a talk that doesn’t get the rip-roaring response you were hoping for – instead of the anticipated round of applause as you wind up with your grand finale, there’s a ripple of murmuring and a few sideways glances.
  • Two of your favourite clients leave you and go to your competitor.
  • Your biggest paying client cancels.
  • Whilst trawling through social media you find out someone has nicked the title, agenda and most of the copy for the workshop you’ve just launched.
  • A client who has always been thrilled with you, out of the blue, writes you a sarcastic and complaining email.

There are just loads of things that go wrong in business and often the first reaction is to dive into a freefall of feeling as though it’s all gone wrong.  But has it really ALL gone wrong? ALL of it?

It may be totally ghastly but if you have another quick look, the chances are that it’s just a little bit of what you’re doing overall.

I Must Do Something – QUICK!*!*

When we have a jolt that makes our adrenaline pump, our first reaction is often to do something, anything, regardless of what good or harm it will do.

Adrenalin pushes us into a fight or flight response, and it’s a quick reaction which means the thing we usually end up doing isn’t the most productive, constructive or helpful.  It could even make things worse, or at best not get you anywhere apart from wasting time, money and energy.

What sort of thing do we often do as a fighting knee jerk reaction?

  • Ringing or emailing and saying you’re sorry – you don’t even know if you’ve done anything wrong yet!
  • Re-designing your website, business cards, logo etc.
  • Commenting on social media posts.

Yes, this is all action.  It may satisfy our brains’ hunger for action, but it’s unlikely any of it will do any good and it’s probably going to make it worse.

If you’re prone to knee-jerking ‘do it now and regret it later’, then you may find creating a simple system to implement can stop you.

And Then There’s Freezing

You know you should respond to the complaint email but you’re frozen.  The days tick by,  you’ve said nothing and it’s almost getting worse by the minute.  You find it difficult to do anything else constructive because your brain is stuck in this one problem.

Systems and Systems Systems!

The idea is that if something horrid happens then your first action is to go to your system.  So keep it handy, in your journal, your handbag, whatever you use every day.  It’s not good filing it away with the business plan that’s nicely presented in an A4 folder on a shelf in your office because when that gut-wrench reaction happens, your go-to plan needs to be immediately to hand.

And these systems need to be simple.  Here’s an example:

Customer Complaints Procedure:

  1. Acknowledge the complaint by email, letter, or telephone call and give a rough timescale for a full investigation and response.  Do not comment on the substance of the complaint at this time.
  2. Break down what has been said into any separate issues.
  3. Decide if what is being alleged is correct – have you done anything wrong?
  4. Contact your insurance company if appropriate and seek their advice on responding.
  5. Decide if you need to seek legal advice.
  6. Make that response, with an apology if that’s right.

If it’s not as prescriptive as this, say you’ve lost a major client.  Instead of rushing around changing all of your sales processes, just ask yourself if you will be safe for the next 72 hours?  That’s 3 days.  Will you have a roof over your head, food, water and warmth for the next 3 days?  If so, take some of those 3 days to think about what’s happened, write down some ideas about how to improve the situation….

…and breathe.