The Target of Misdirected Hostility

The contact page sometimes brings really interesting emails (stop by and say hello sometime).

Today, an angry person emailed me that there was a glaring error in my post How to Stay Motivated. His tone was hostile, and he made a couple of accusations. First, he accused me of missing a mistake in that post, which he described as being “as big as an elephant.” Second, he accused me of trying to sell him something. He used a couple of curse words, but nothing really offensive (not that I have a single feeling that is easily hurt).

I confess. If anyone is guilty of typographical errors, it is I (Or should that read, “It is me.”) Fortunately, no one has lost life or limb because of one of my typos. Yet. My workflow isn’t right, and I write and publish faster than I give my editor time to edit. So there is that. In the line of the post I believe this person was upset with, I referred to readers who believe that life is a cosmic accident as “worm food.” This person was likely confused by those words. So was my editor, and she deleted them. (I want to put them back in)

If any person is guilty of being a salesperson, then surely I am that person. Let there be no doubt that I am trying to sell you. I am trying to sell you my ideas. If you hire speakers, I am trying to sell you my speaking services. If you use coaching or consulting services, I am trying to sell you those. If you aren’t the right target for any of those things, I am most definitely trying to sell you on joining the Sunday Newsletter list. (The person who sent the email did in fact sign up for the newsletter.)

As much fun as all of this is, I can’t help but wonder why the writer is so hostile, a hostility that he aimed at me over what he believed was the grave offense of publishing a typographical error (Heaven forbid he ever scan the archives here! He’ll have a field day.).

But I am not the source of this person’s hostility. I am only the target. What is really troubling him is something deeper, something much tougher to deal with, and it is manifesting itself in other areas of his life. So I sent a nice, polite note back, thanking him, and sharing with him some of my many imperfections.

You are not the source of much of the hostility directed at you either. How should you approach people who are in pain and lashing out, knowing that none of what is really troubling them has anything to do with you, that you are merely the target? With kindness and compassion. None of their anger is about you, and you shouldn’t make it about you either.

Be who you are, no matter what.

Filed under: Sales 3.0

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