A colleague of mine related the following story a few months back:
“I have this client to whom I have delivered our professional services for the past 5 years. Each year we sit down and talk through exactly what he requires, how we will attend to his needs and what the costs are as we bill annually in our industry. We also make provisions for the procedure around extra billings to account for unexpected work needed through the year. When he received his first billing, he sent a rather blunt email questioning a few things but eventually paid it after a few follow-ups from our side. Over the past years, his blunt questions have progressed to scathing insults directed at my staff and me, personally. When I offer to meet with him to discuss the issues he has raised, he never agrees and I land up feeling as if I have somehow mortally wounded him when payment is finally received after a lengthy request process. What really puzzles me is that he is a very successful businessman who must have many suppliers and many choices as to who to work with – yet when I offer to discontinue our services he never agrees. It has reached the point where I feel physically ill each time I see an email from him and I feel terrified to bill him for anything. I feel completely torn and exhausted by this client as I need his business but he is draining me both financially and emotionally, and I can’t get rid of him.”
My colleague is describing an entrepreneur bully.
Whilst professional bullying is something we might expect to come across in a corporate environment it surprises us more when we experience this as a business owner. But bullies exist in this environment too –even though it is more difficult for this type to flourish. Fortunately as business owners we have more choice around who we deal with and what we have to accept.
In developing a strategy around how to deal effectively with these bullies if we come across them – we should consider the following: