I have had the pleasure of working with the best conductors and musicians around the world as you have read in my last article. In my families Construction and Management company, I have had the privilege of working with some of the finest roofers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, brick layers, and other construction personnel for over 20 years. All roofs are supposed to keep us dry in our houses and offices.
I arrived at our job site to inspect and video the progress of the new flat roofs on the buildings we own and manage. The ladder was set up and I climbed up to the first roof with my video camera to record the progress of the first roof.
I should mention that I am a woman, 5 foot 11 inches tall, and weigh 140 pounds. After arriving on the roof, I started to video the progress of the new flat roof when I realized there were bubbles and gaps in the roof. Meanwhile the roofer, a lean linebacker type, was coming my way. I knew he was stronger than me and could easily throw me off the roof in anger.
He said, “I need $3,000 right this minute”! He tried to threaten me by moving me to the edge of the roof. He was so angry! I remained calm, looked him in the eye and reminded him he had received his payment three days ago and that he needed to fix the gapes and bubbles in the membrane so he could receive more money.
I explained I did not carry that amount of money with me as there was no ATM on the roof. I continued to remain calm, looking him in the eye and did not turn my back to him. Eventually he moved away and I moved to another section of the roof and decided to photograph the progress of the other roofs this roofer was not working on at that moment. The roofer knew who I was and had decided he would try to frighten me.
Every few days I would return to check the progress of the roofs and video them. When the roofs were finally completed we breathed a sigh of relief.
What are the 3 secrets I learned about dealing with toxic people in a difficult situation?
1) Look the person in the eye. Always remain calm. Let the difficult person vent. Listen carefully to them without interrupting and do not argue with them – simply listen. When they have finished speaking do not judge or accuse them.
2) Remember, you are not anyone’s personal door mat to be personally bullied. Suggest solutions and the steps for solving the problem. Remember to follow through on the solutions you have agreed on.
3) Realize you cannot solve every problem.