Angry People


This morning as I was listening to a Jimi Hendrix MP3, reading a couple of articles in The Business herald while waiting for my CRM to synchronise, I noticed a column from Seth Godin saying Angy People Are Different and there were some common threads and something missing.

None of them really had a good answer for how to deal with angry people. Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were sying F them in the Arse. This was a bootleg audio clip from a live show that a friend in France sent me. Not very productive.

There was a story in this morning’s NZ Business Herald (not on the net yet) by Neil Green talking about how GlaxoSmithKline spend most of their time justifying their position, even after being found guilty of exaggerating the amount of Vitamin C in Ribena. On their web site they have made some announcements about what they have changed and they haven’t done a bad job, but what they haven’t done is made a personal apology and made a human face.

Something I note all the time is that business and commerce is ultimately about people doing business with people and you should forget that at your peril. What amazes me is that the very people who learn from case studies in university (and Ribena is bound to be in one in the future) don’t remember their lessons when they get in the real world. Bad publicity is often an opportunity to put on a positive face and it is well known in the world of sales that the relationship with key clients is often far better after effectively managing a problem, than it was before the problem arose.

Debbie Mayo-Smith is one of the great imports to New Zealand and often speaks and writes about pitching to the emotion and reaffirms what all sales and marketing people have taught, but some have forgotten, haven’t I just said it. People do business with people. My relationship with all brands whose (note the last word) products I use is at a personal level. I use their products personally. If I find a pip in a tin of pipless peaches and contact the QA department of the manufacturer who listens, apologises and sends me some free product, I no longer talk about the pip, I talk about the genuine caring nature of the company who put things right. I trust them more than ever. The brand that says, shit happens, if we get 1 wrong in 10,000 products its good, get over yourself, I will stop using them because they don’t care and I am angry.

So back to Seth Godin. What I learned when studying Psychology and Negotiation was based around NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming. If you try to soothe or calm the person who is angry, you are likely to upset them more because they will think you are being patronising. If you justify your position without acknowledging the other person’s position as Glaxo did, you will lose their trust as has happened in New Zealand with Ribena, where thousands of parents gave this product to their children thinking it was far superior to other fruit juice products on the market. They feel cheated and justifying your position just tells them that you feel you are superior to them.

In NLP they talk about pacing the person first. If they are talking in a loud angry voice, do the same. Get on their level. Show them that you empathise with them and would feel the same way in their shoes. A common mantra in negotiation is the 3 F’s of Feel, Felt, Found. I know how you feel, I had a similar experience to yours and what I actually found was……………….

The most important thing is sincerity in the use of this technique. People are adept at seeing through insincerity whether they are conscious of it or not. If you were genuinely wrong, admit it and do something about it.

Now if only Housing New Zealand could learn from this.

Second Time Around


Last night one of my girls was on a dating site looking for a possible partner for one of my friends who’s husband died after playing a game of football. He was one of the good guys who died young.

So she is one of a huge number of people who is looking for love, 2nd time around. Most people have different reasons, the most common being a marriage break up. On this particular site there were over 10,000 men online looking for ……….. well various things I guess, but ultimately for a new ‘life partner’. I put that in inverted comma’s because it is no longer the norm for people to have one life partner even though most of us contend that we are monogamous, I think it has come to mean one partner at a time.

In my youth it was already becoming commonplace for marriages to break up and for people to start again and of course there are the elderly where typically the woman has a much longer life expectancy than the man, so naturally is going to want some new male companionship in her dotage.

Back in the day when life was simple, you stayed on the farm or at your job for 40 years and earned a gold watch, life was more about survival and getting enough money to be comfortable. The pace of the world was relatively slow and people were comfortable with that. Relationships were ‘until death do us part’.

Today life is fast, the world has grown smaller and there are opportunities to taste and try many things. Our standard of living is far higher leaving us comparatively with greater disposable incomes, and the world is our oyster. This opens us up to many more temptations and we go through many cycles of life. We move to new towns, cities or countries, we experience new cultures, we have many jobs, our social groups expand and for a much larger percentage of people, relationships fade away. They die for lots of reasons, but I think the fast pace of life in the 20th and 21st centuries is a major factor. As they say, change is the only constant.

Last year, one of the schools I went to, Auckland Alternative School had a school reunion. One of my old school mates who now lives in Australia was asking if his old girlfriend was coming and although he is in a relationship, that was the factor that would determine whether he was going to come, no one knew what had happened to her and neither of them came. The reunion was advertised on Old Friends which is also a site well known for people looking to find the old school girl or boyfriend.

Of those that did attend the reunion, only a few of us were still in long time relationships, most had split up and were single again or in new relationships. Whilst I have been in a long term relationship, married for many years, I had previously come from a 7 year relationship and I am my wife’s second husband. So I fit the mold as well.

Anyway, next month I am attending Song Summit Sydney S3 which is the first event of its kind for song writers in Australasia. I have applied to perform to a panel of songwriters, publishers, managers, broadcasters, producers and A & R professionals, which the blurb says is ‘not for the faint hearted’. Like American Idol in a way, but hopefully more constructive.

I’ll be performing my new song Old Flame, which to bring this blog to it’s conclusion was motivated by seeing my old school mate and so many other people, looking for that old girl or boyfriend that they lost track of, that could have been ‘the one’. When I look at websites like Old Friends and track the number of people who want a 2nd chance, I am amazed at how many there are. I hope my song goes down well and that they like it’s construction, because I think it is very topical and many will relate to it, which in my book is a key criteria for a good song.

If you’d like to hear it, check it out on my MySpace page and let me know what you think.