• Bill Petrie

Respond Accordingly

Controlling your reaction when things go wrong.

Earbuds stop working in the middle of a run.

Coffee is spilled on your shirt minutes before a client meeting.

The Wi-Fi signal inexplicably vanishes before you can hit the send button on a time-sensitive email.

The printer runs out of black ink as you’re putting together a final presentation.

The car battery dies at the most inopportune time.

Bad things happen to everyone. Whether it results in a minor inconvenience or a major shift in plans, things do go sideways from time to time.

For example, a client decides on merchandise, and you work with a supplier to secure the product in time for a specific event date. As the event approaches, you reach out to the supplier to stay updated on the order’s progress. However, due to staffing challenges, the communication is more sporadic than usual, which is frustrating. Finally, after numerous calls and frantic emails, the supplier explains that they will not meet the event date because of global supply chain issues.

Sound familiar?

Many times, after a situation like the above plays out, the aggrieved distributor will take to social media to publicly lambaste the supplier. They usually share how a client has been lost, that the supplier dropped the ball, and implore others never to do business with the supplier.

When things go south, taking it personally generally makes the situation worse, not better. For example, flaming a supplier online during a global supply chain crisis won’t turn back time so that the merchandise arrives in time for your client’s event. It will, however, cause your blood pressure to skyrocket and make you look exceedingly unprofessional – not to mention tarnish your reputation with all suppliers moving forward.

Next time an order takes a turn for the worse, it won’t fix the situation by blowing your stack at the customer service representative or shredding the supplier online. Instead, work collaboratively with the supplier to solve the issue and brainstorm what can be done differently in the future to prevent the problem from resurfacing, such as more lead time or utilizing a different product. By responding in the spirit of cooperation rather than blame, there is a much greater chance of eliminating the hurdle in the future.

Bad things happen. Looking at a misfortune as a personal affront to you or your business will do little more than slowly create an ulcer. Realize that when bad things happen, it’s not about you; it’s simply part of life.


Respond accordingly.

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