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Don’t settle for a peer-to-peon relationship

There’s a difference between respect and servitude


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A CEO friend and I recently had a beer, and he updated me on his kids. His daughter worked in sales for a large, well-known company and had been promoted to a “major accounts” position, in charge of relationships with two other big organizations.

One of her clients is delightful, profitable and appreciative of her efforts. The other is a pain in the (you know what), abusive and threatening. It’s not just her; they do it to everyone (there’s a 100 percent chance that the CEO is a total jerk, to put it lightly). Consequently, she wants to leave and start over somewhere else, so that she isn’t forced to work with jerks.

I’ve pointed out to people who are young in their career that they should approach life as though they’re self-employed and they must occasionally be willing to risk their current employment status to maintain self-respect.

Serving others is noble work and requires some sacrifice, but when people frequently treat you like a rented mule, you should change that relationship or leave.

As the saying goes:

“If you aren’t happy, move! You aren’t a tree!”

The fact that others have positional authority or apparent monetary leverage over you doesn’t justify a peer-to-peon relationship. You should look for the best elements of a peer-to-peer relationship, regardless of your age or experience level. This doesn’t mean you’re disrespectful; there’s a difference between respect and servitude.

Whether you are self-employed or run a large organization, I believe it’s a fool’s errand to take revenue from assholes. The revenue is easy to count, but what’s not so easy to calculate is the cost of stress, delayed payments (yes, they’re the ones who always pay late), additional hand holding, rumination, self-doubt, lack of a referral and burnout of your best employees.

Suggest that they contact one of your competitors, explaining that, “They might be a better fit for your unique needs.”

In my son’s first sales job, he had an abusive client. He had quickly had enough. On his next visit, he walked into the guy’s office, shut the door and said, “We need to rethink our relationship.”

The guy became a good client (my son is a former Marine and built like a brick wall, which may have helped). You might not want to go that far, but don’t work with rude people — at least for very long.

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Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is president of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

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