Look, before we get into this I think it’s important that you know where I’m coming from here:
In my heart of hearts, I think you deserve better.
I’m coming at this from a business perspective, but this can translate over into everyday life as well.
We’ve all experienced the pain and frustration of having to chase people or companies who seem genuinely uninterested in working with us.
The emails never responded to.
The calls that go directly to voicemail, or are somehow are lost between the message taker and the intended recipient ~ as if by some consistent form of dark magic.
However it happens, the message it sends back is clear: I don’t care about you, or your business.
And this can happen in your personal life as well.
Common symptoms include giving and never receiving, or where you seem to be constantly be chasing others.
Aside from the generous ego bruising, this creates what I call “stress creep”, where unseen stress increasingly creeps into your life.
It’s a more passive form of stress, as this sneaky little devil doesn’t confront you directly.
Instead, it silently adds more to your “to do” list, throwing one more thing into the mix that you’ve got to deal with.
And let’s be honest …do you really need any MORE stress or difficulty in your life?
No you don’t.
Because I think you deserve better.
Slaying the monster of stress creep can make your life better by:
- making you happier (who likes having to follow up with people who don’t give a rip?)
- increasing your productivity (who doesn’t want to get more done in less time?)
- reduce your work load (no more having to set a reminder in your calendar to follow up, phone, email, text or via carrier pigeon.)
As an added bonus, these 3 things will reduce your stress level significantly.
Your doctor will be so proud of you when he sees that lowered blood pressure reading.
“So how do I slay the dreaded monster of stress creep?” you ask.
That’s the best part:
YOU LET THEM GO.
I have a standing rule when it comes to dealing with people in business, and it goes a little something like this:
“I’ll put up with B.S. only until I can find a better option.”
This rule was crystalized for me when I started working as a project manager at a fabrication shop.
The learning curve wasn’t just steep …it was completely vertical.
I had gone from managing a hockey store and selling hockey equipment (like a good Canadian, eh) to a completely new industry where missed tolerances or mistakes cost thousands and thousands of dollars.
But when I arrived on scene and began learning, it felt like my arrival had just freshly chummed the waters.
Not sure whether they were trying to cement their position of authority, or if I was just lucky enough to be forced into working with some exceptionally nasty human beings.
Whatever the reason, some of them felt an obligation to go out of their way to try to point out my mistakes & rub my nose in the fact that I was brand new to the game.
While it might be part of paying your dues as the new guy, I was shocked to run into this when working with subcontractors.
I mean, I was literally trying to GIVE THEM MONEY, but some of them couldn’t resist finding an opportunity to drop a hot steaming pile of condescension on me.
One “Maestro of Misery” in particular did whatever he could to ignore me.
Requests for a quote, confirming that my order had actually been received, sending a nice follow up message to see where a late project was…it didn’t matter.
Every single one of my emails and phone calls were ignored.
If hell did in fact freeze over ~ and I managed to speak to him ~ he would blow me off while trying to find an insignificant flaw in my request.
All the while he would respond to my boss’ calls and emails.
Broaching the subject of how difficult this vendor was to work with, I asked my boss if I could find someone else that I could outsource the work to.
I tried to sell it by saying that we didn’t want to put all of our production eggs in one basket.
And I even added the phrase “system redundancy” for good measure.
But my boss wasn’t into it.
He said I had to continue working with “Mr Unhelpful Vendor” because, well, his company always had.
So I had to put up with this vendor’s particularly unique brand of B.S.
Not long after, my boss put me in charge of ordering material and co-coordinating all outsourced labor for the 1000+ projects per year we did.
The main thing the promotion gave me was a plethora of new responsibilities.
And a lot more stress.
But ~ by nature of the duties I had to perform ~ it did give me more decision making power.
And as newly minted “Project Manager” my first order of business was to hunt for a better supplier.
I was tired of chasing someone who obviously didn’t care about doing business with me.
Up until this point I had been nice, personable and patient while putting up with this vendors overarching unprofessionalism.
But it was high time to find someone who would communicate properly, meet deadlines, and offer pricing that was in line with the rest of the market.
So I did my research and found a great fit.
The new vendor’s response time to my requests & their communication was great.
And their paperwork and documentation …nothing short of outstanding.
Pricing was on par with the rest of the market, and their turn around time was a huge improvement.
I switched vendors immediately.
No call to say I was thinking about switching, no airing of grievances.
Like a busy little beaver diverting the flow of water from one stream to another, I switched from the old vendor to the new one I’d found.
The old vendor lost sales in excess of $200k overnight.
I, on the other hand, saved countless hours of babysitting the projects that I had previously sent to him.
Adding to the list of benefits was that I no longer had to perform the demeaning “walking on egg shells” dance when trying to communicate with him.
And switching vendors dramatically reduced the turn around time for our projects.
This in turn meant that we increased our capacity to do more projects, with each individual project being done faster.
With this one simple maneuver, I had improved the use of my time and the company’s operational efficiency.
All while reducing my level of workplace stress.
Earlier I mentioned that sometimes you have to put up with someone because you have no choice.
But that only needs to last until you find a better option.
Even as I say that, I realize that there’s a strong magnetic pull to just stick with the status quo and carry on in the linear fashion that we’re used to.
(Just like my old boss, whose reasoning for not letting me switch vendors was because “he’s always used them.”)
Of course, if we manage to escape the ruts of routine it’s easy to fall into the temptation of trying to heroically push through and battle the obstacles head on using force.
This generally takes the form of some kind of increased action towards your desired result where you chase people harder, faster, or more frequently.
Or you unleash the combined hell-fire barrage of all 3 at the same time ~ much like the email spammers crowding your inbox.
Not getting heard? Turn up the volume.
Emails getting ignored? Send more.
Vendor talks down to you? Tell him that the only reason he still has a mouth full of teeth is because he’s talking to you on the phone and not face to face.
Ok… maybe not the last one.
But these two options are the ones we’re likely to default to because the tracks of experience have already been laid and we know exactly what to do.
There’s no new work that needs to be done, no creative thinking …we just follow down the established trail that we always have.
But there’s something else to consider…
Some say that by chasing after people who aren’t willing to work with you, you’re aggravating the situation by enacting the “Law of Reverse Action.”
(This law suggests that when you actively pursue something too eagerly, it tends to move further away from you.)
An example would be when you run away from a dog, and as his animal brain kicks in he suddenly thinks that you’re prey to be chased after.
Cute when it’s a Jack Russell Terrier. Not as cute when it’s a Tibetan Mastiff.
But they are hard-wired to chase after something that runs from them.
And so ~ according to “The Law of Reverse Action” ~ the same principle happens with us humans too.
The more you chase something, the more it eludes you.
So maybe that’s been our problem.
Or maybe the people we’re dealing with are just idiots.
I’ll let you be the judge.
But there is a better way.
I’ve used the example of this principle in terms of a business setting, but it can apply to relationships as well.
Look, when it comes to our lives, we have a finite amount of time and energy.
And I can’t think of a worse way to waste both than by chasing someone who isn’t interested.
So if they overlook you, ignore you, aren’t interested or couldn’t care less… let them go.
If you have to constantly motivate that employee before he’ll do his job…
If you are constantly giving, and a friend never reciprocates…
If a business makes it perfectly clear they don’t value you…
Say it with me now: LET THEM GO.
The sooner you are able to cut ties and save the energy you spent chasing them, the better off you’ll be.
And if there’s no way around it and you have to put up with their BS?
Make it your mission in the short term to find a creative solution to eliminate your dependence on them:
- research and find another vendor
- network with friends & work colleagues to find a replacement employee
- cut off contact with people who don’t return the investment you make in their lives
- re-think current systems and processes to lessen your dependence on the services or value they provide
- ask ChatGPT to provide a miracle solution you haven’t thought of yet
Free yourself by whatever means necessary.
If you’re thinking this sounds too Machiavellian, it’s because you have a heart and likely a high degree of empathy.
And that’s a good thing.
In no way, shape, or form am I suggesting that you change that.
Rather, my suggestion is that you protect that beautiful heart of yours by spending your time and energy in such a way that you are more likely to generate a positive return.
After all, you expect your money to generate some kind of return don’t you?
You should think of your time and energy in the same way, where you invest it in places most likely to generate a positive return.
And ~ as I mentioned before ~ when I ditched the old vendor, I saw a HUGE return.
But after a few months went by, the old vendor called me up.
Maybe he realized that his sales budget sprang a potential $200k leak.
Maybe The Law of Reverse Action’s prophecy came true.
Maybe it was a bit of both.
At any rate, it was particularly delicious just how much his tone had changed.
Gone were the snide remarks and condescending comments.
He even asked for my opinion on something (!)
He spoke to me like a normal human being.
As if I was someone he might want to do business with.
But at that point, I was too far gone.
I was miles away in the other direction and not coming back.