You can’t just up and quit, conflict is a part of life

When I wrote about my bad work day last week, a lot of commenters wondered a couple of things:

  • Why didn’t I just quit the project
  • Why didn’t I fight back
  • If I could have talked to the boss aside and told her how rude she was
  • Whether or not I’d internalize this conflict

The main point I want to bring up is that I’m my own representative when I am working for these companies with clients.

Why didn’t I just quit the project?

It’s unprofessional

When you are in a project that is about to finish, you can’t quit it just because of one bad meeting out of 6 months of work.

I’ve only left a project once, and I felt bad leaving them, but it was because I really couldn’t take it any longer. You have to push me a lot, and pretty hard to get me to quit on a project.

See, as a consultant who only works for short periods of times at companies, it’s like saying you will walk out of every job you ever took that made you upset.

You’ll never make any money, and you’re going to run into bad apples and you’ll have to learn how to deal with it

If I quit, that would not only make me look bad, but it would make my amazing team look bad and the client would suffer in the end, which does not bode well for everyone.

You don’t leave a project unless there’s a damn good reason like a family emergency, traumatic experience and so on. This was a blip.

It’s career suicide

I only care about the client in the end. If they like what you do, 9 times out of 10, they’ll ask for you by name to come back over anyone else.

If you quit, they’ll remember you as the consultant who quit on them in the eleventh hour.

They won’t remember ANYTHING good about you or what you did, except that you left them.

If by some miracle they hire you back again because you were good, they’ll always have their guard up, thinking that you’ll up and leave them at any time or be a total flake, which never makes for a good working relationship.

Being too sensitive in the workplace to every little thing is not in the cards, especially for something as trivial as this in the grand scheme.

It isn’t my fault and everyone who matters knows it

99% of what I did was good, they were just nitpicking, and a lot of what I “missed” was their fault and they know it. They just felt unusually aggressive because the boss was in the room so they wanted to prove a point, and they were trying to cover their butts in front of her.

It was the first time in 6 months something like this happened

Every project has so many people on it, you just can’t help but rub someone the wrong way, or work with someone who doesn’t like you.

10% of the people whom you work with, will be difficult. You will be lucky if the other 90% are amazing.

If it becomes a problem, then yes you can. But this was the first time in 6 months that a meeting like this had happened.

Would you quit if in a year, this kind of thing rarely happens and happened only once where you got yelled at for something you didn’t do? I wouldn’t.

There’s a certain level of abuse anyone should take, and this was not it. I’d only quit if it was every day, even every week where I would have to endure this andย this was not the case.

Their anger was misplaced, and in the end, thinking back, I think they felt like it was normal to scream at a consultant. Their normal way of working is to be aggressive and frothy-mouthed, which makes me really not want to be an employee of their company to have to deal with that on a daily basis.


Why didn’t I “fight” back and defend myself?

It isn’t worth it

Frankly, their opinion is meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Only an idiot fights with idiots. (They’ll drag you down to your level and beat you with experience. I can’t remember who said that but it’s true.)

The client really likes me, the team is amazing and the head executive of the project thinks I’m great. These people in the meetings are middle managers and employees.

So what if they get mad at me, and verbally abuse me and my work? I not only have witnesses in the room who know I do a good job, but they can vouch for what happened in that room later.

If they want to bring it up to my project manager and to the executives that I “missed” something important, then they’ll have a fight on their hands, when people who matter are involved.

They’re jealous and scared because they don’t know their jobs

This kind of “abuse” comes with the territory as an outsider, and a paid consultant who charges you $$$$/hour.

They’re just projecting.

I know that they know I’m charging a lot of money, and most of it goes into my pocket.

As a result, they expect a certain level of awesomeness, far beyond the standards they set for themselves. They also felt bad that they didn’t catch this crap sooner.

It’s just when it comes down to very nitpicky things, they want everything “perfect” because they’re scared when I leave, things will blow up because they won’t be able to handle it, so they love and they hate having you there.

This is the problem of every project, trying to learn what the consultant did before she or he leaves, and in the end, I probably know their business better than they do before I go, which makes them doubly insecure.

If I could have talked to the boss aside and told her how rude she was

No, why would I bother?

She’s a middle manager who’s department is taking over, and not part of our project.

I don’t work with her on a daily basis.

She was just power tripping because our executive wasn’t in the room, nor our project manager. She wanted to prove something to her employees about how tough she was, and they responded in the like.

There’s no point in bringing her aside and telling her she was rude.

I don’t really care, unless she brings it up to the client or tries to badmouth me to my own team.

I actually pity their pathetic posturing. They’re all blustering, yelling, getting angry, frothy-mouthed just to cover up the fact that they have incompetent employees and they’re trying to pin the blame on the outsiders instead to cover their butts.

Only if she badmouths me to anyone else, the executive already knows that it isn’t true, because I briefed him on what happened and he was pretty annoyed with their behaviour in treating us outsiders.

I’ll take the money and they can say what they want

I was charging a lot of money to have them berate me, so I took the money right out of their pockets while they were talking, so to speak.

In the future, I’m going to be a lot more careful when dealing with them andย I’ll remember how to handle them.

There’s no sense in getting angry at them. They’re like caged dogs barking at a stranger — they haven’t learned how to react any other way, so how can I blame them?

I always have choices

If it comes down to this company and another, I’ll just take whatever OTHER project is available, rather than going back to them.

As a freelancer, it’s nice to be able to choose or say “No” to projects and clients you don’t like.

Better yet, I’ll ask for more money, with a premium for “anticipated hardship”. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Whether or not I’d remember this

I don’t internalize these conflicts

Thinking back to all my other projects where I got yelled at, I don’t feel anything when I think about those days.

I just remember what happened, and what I learned from it.

Now if I did something bad, or truly embarrassed myself, or hurt someone in the heat of the moment without thinking it through, yes.

I will remember THAT for the rest of my life.

If it’s something like this — a petty manager blustering and employees responding in the like, it’s all bark and no bite for me.

I’ve learned how not be impulsive and say what I will eventually regret

I’ve been there and done that, and the better strategy is just to keep your mouth shut.

I have a fast temper and a quick mouth to match, and it has gotten me into a lot of trouble in the past.

This experience will become an emotionless memory by next week

I just needed to talk it out and vent which is why I love having a blog ๐Ÿ™‚

Once I vent, I’m usually fine afterwards, especially if it was just a high-emotion, intense situation that leaves you drained but has no lasting impact.

I won’t remember this as a bad, or traumatic experience, as I will remember it as a future note to myself on HOW to handle these things.

No matter who you are, what you do and where you work, you will have conflict

Basically, you can never shy away from conflict, because you will just handicap yourself for dealing with life and reality.

Even if you work for yourself, like I do, you have to deal with clients.

Everyone has to deal with a client or a boss in any job that they do, and there is no job in the world that I can think of, where you will never have to deal with conflict.

It’s unrealistic, and if you have to work with all kinds of personalities, it’s best that you know how to deal with them rather than ignoring the situation and refusing to learn how to fight effectively.

If I ran away from every conflict or fight that came my way (not that it’s in my nature), I wouldn’t be who and where I am today.

FINAL WORDS: Practical tactics for dealing with haters

Michael Nelson of Ready, Fire, Aim, shared one of the best links I’ve read in a long time on this, written by Tim Ferriss on how to deal with haters, and here are the major points:

  1. It doesnโ€™t matter how many people donโ€™t get it. What matters is how many people do.
  2. 10% of people will find a way to take anything personally. Expect it.
  3. โ€œTrying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.โ€ (Colin Powell)
  4. โ€œIf you are really effective at what you do, 95% of the things said about you will be negative.โ€ (Scott Boras)
  5. โ€œIf you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.โ€ (Epictetus)
  6. โ€œLiving well is the best revenge.โ€ (George Herbert)
  7. Keep calm and carry on.

So I’m not trying to change the world at my job, but what he’s listed out is true. I just need to learn how to not respond aggressively when emotions are running high.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.