Businesses have evolved substantially since the early 20th century when all that existed were small mom-and-pop shops. Although single ownership businesses still make up a good chunk of our economy, corporations have grown enormously since those days to the point that quite a few large companies overshadow the economies of some small countries. How has this change affected our business relationships? It’s an intriguing question.
Big vs. Small
Let’s make clear that sometimes, especially when dealing with a large corporation, business is not personal. You might go into Wal-Mart one day to return a product, only to be told it is not refundable because the three-month limit has elapsed.
Even if it’s just a day over the limit, this type of refusal is rarely a personal choice of the employee. It’s company policy, and the employee has no authority to change it, whether you took the product out of its box or not. The employee is only protecting her job when she declines to bend the rules. Don’t take it personally!
Dealing with smaller businesses is sometimes much easier in the sense that their policies are a bit more flexible if the owner is at the till or present on site. They may allow certain exceptions to the rules if they feel you have a valid reason.
When Business is Personal
When does business turn personal? It’s when the person you are facing tells you it’s not personal! You know the feeling if you have been on the receiving end of that statement. There is no need to make this statement unless the person delivering it knows s/he has uttered words they would never say in a polite conversation. The person knows that what was said is offensive and wants to excuse it by saying “it’s not personal.”
Why would someone say this? It may be a guilty conscience. The person may be fully aware that s/he has just offended or hurt you. If nothing offensive was said, there would be no need to assure you “it’s not personal.”
How Should You React?
It’s not easy to keep your calm in the face of being told something inappropriate, but that’s what you need to do.
Often someone making inappropriate comments is trying to rouse you, so a calm demeanor shows that the strategy has failed.
Write down the name of the person you are dealing with, along with the details of the incident. Stop talking with the offending person and tell another person in the organization that you would like to speak to a senior employee, preferably the manager.
Escalate your issue in an orderly fashion within the organization, moving as high up the ladder as you can, until you get an appropriate response. If all else fails, you can take your complaint to social media, where you may generate a groundswell of support among other consumers who have been mistreated by the same business.