Confrontation, Done Right, a No-Brainer
I was able to attend some of the recent Temecula Group meeting in Los Angeles ahead of the NPA conference in Palm Springs. It doesn’t take me long to feel a part of anything. I showed up at Temecula mid-Day 2 and jumped right in.
Over dinner, we had a blast telling stories. Well, let me clear that up: I had a blast telling stories. The rest just listened, as if they had a choice.
I shared stories of a couple of my stupid moments that fortunately ended with positive results. Ready?
Old people like me remember the days when bars had a “Happy Hour.” For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, the bars, to entice business, used to offer free food and reduced-price drinks to draw people to their establishments directly after work. Can you say: liability?
Well, this one afternoon, I was driving east along a main road in Indianapolis and a vehicle ahead of me was driving at half the posted speed, weaving in and out of two lanes. Obviously, this person knew about Happy Hour and had probably just left one and was headed to another one.
I had time on my hands, so I followed him. Growing concerned that he would hurt or even kill someone, I needed to take some action before it was too late. He approached a left turn lane, intending to enter a major highway. He stopped at the traffic light ahead of the ramp. It was now or never.
I jumped out of my car, ran up to his open window, reached in and turned his car off, his keys now in my hand. It all happened so quickly, and without a plan.
Now what do I do?
He slurred a question at me as to who I was, and I simply told him that I was a police officer and that he needed to step out of his car immediately. He did just that. Then he shocked me. He took off running.
Now, visualize this. I’m standing by an abandoned car, in front of my car with a line of cars building behind me, holding keys to what is now, essentially, a stolen car! I asked my passenger to drive my car to the convenience store on the corner, and I did the same with my stolen car. I called the police and they came to the scene.
The real police officer was shocked at what I did. He didn’t think many people would do such a thing (or were that stupid, is probably what he was thinking). He asked me to wait around because, most of the time, they return to the scene and also admit to driving without a license because of a previous DUI/DWI.
It happened exactly like he said. The guy came back, smelling like mints.
The officer said, “Buddy, the mints aren’t going to help you at all. The only way to get rid of the alcohol is to cut your wrist and drain your blood.” The officer asked him if he had his license and, of course, you already know that answer. Then he sent me home and thanked me for confronting him. The officer said, “Don’t do it again.” We both know he had to say that, and we both knew I had done the right thing.
Guess what? I did it again! Almost the same area and just weeks later.
A car flew through an intersection and nearly killed me. This time, I was alone, and again, there’s a theme building here, I had time on my hands. I was living a very boring life, I guess.
I followed the guy as he weaved his way to the next Happy Hour. He got out of his car and was barely able to find his way into the bar. I went in and asked the bartender to please not serve the guy anything to drink. The bartender was not appreciative of me. Let’s just agree to guess where he suggested I go.
I left (not very happy), went to the guy’s unlocked car parked across two spots (with the keys still in the ignition), popped the hood, took his distributor cap, turned his lights on (high beams), and locked the car with the keys in it.
I drove by the next morning, and the guy’s car was still sitting in the parking lot. Mission accomplished.
These aren’t business stories, per se, but are there lessons to be learned from them? I think so. I doubt either of these guys intended to hurt anyone. But they were about to if they hadn’t been confronted.
A lesson learned from my failures; I have not always done this right. Sometimes I think life works backwards.
We find it nearly impossible to confront those we love and who ultimately have the most impact on our lives. We let things get out of hand, because we don’t want to disrespect or risk making our lives even more uncomfortable — yet our non-action only makes it worse.
I recently told a major client that I had finally decided to quit doing business with him. This analytical decision-maker allowed me, over many years, to share my ideas, my costly demonstrations, my travel time, etc., with him while he repeatedly shared my information with my competitors, which ended up getting his business.
I had nothing to lose by confronting and canning this customer. I gained back my valuable time, which I could apply to working with those who would actually do business with me.
I think the word “confrontation” conjures up wicked thoughts. I mean, the word starts with con. I envision a prisoner locked up. I can also imagine someone misleading another with the word “con” as in con artist.
That’s what is so wrong with the word.
In reality, confrontation done right can be the complete opposite. Confrontation frees you up and allows you to move forward without baggage or bondage.
Don’t be afraid of confrontation; it’s really a no-brainer.