Thursday Thoughts: Always Give people a way out

“What’s his way out?” Sebastian asked thoughtfully.

“Excuse me?” Robbie said. “His way out? I don’t know that he has one. I mean, if you’re talking breach of contract—”

Sebastian shook his head. “That’s not what I mean,” he explained. “What is his way out of the situation with the money and your resignation? Robbie, people will take advantage of you when and where they can. There’s no doubt about that. Everybody wants something for nothing, and people are always trying to get away with as much as they can. But this is no playground. It’s business, and in business, there are
bullies who will push you around so they can get their way, or else they’ll step right on your head to boost themselves up to the next rung of the ladder.” Sebastian nodded thoughtfully before continuing, as if he were even teaching himself a thing or two. “You can’t let Sean get away with treating you like crap and get away without paying you something for your efforts.”

Robbie looked at Sebastian curiously, sensing he was about to elaborate. “All right, go on. I’m listening.”

“Bullies are emotional,” Sebastian explained. “The best way to react to them is with calm, reasonable logic. You haven’t even addressed him face to face about this yet. You both know the situation and have
avoided talking about it because it’s uncomfortable. The first step is to communicate. Get a dialog going. Feel him out and see what his reaction is. There’s a chance you can work something out. If not, you can always use the resignation as a last resort. But if you let him ignore the situation, the tension between you two is going to grow like a cancer. It won’t be healthy for your business relationship or for either of you personally.”

Robbie nodded; Sebastian had made perfect sense, like always. “But what if the bully has you backed into a corner, Sebastian? What if I try all of that, and he still doesn’t come through?”

“Again, Robbie, you have to out-reason him,” Sebastian continued. “You can’t get emotional or fight dirty or lower yourself to his level. Always leave the bully an out. You must make the alternatives sound as if they are his brilliant solutions. If you back an angry animal into a corner, his defenses will be on red alert. Leaving him an out is a good way to make sure he saves face.

conversations on the bench