10 Ways to Reverse the Momentum of an Overly Aggressive or Hostile Person

FACT: You will encounter challenging people.

They might come in the form of strangers.
They might come in the form of customers.
They might EVEN come in the form of colleagues or friends!

They will try to overpower you.
They will try to intimidate you.
They will try to get a rise out of you.

They will make blunt or rude comments.
They will ask pointed or threatening questions.
They will attempt to activate your defensiveness.

And you will have a choice.

To either REACT:

By getting upset, overly emotional or defensive.

Which is exactly what they want.

Because deep down, they know that’s the only way they can beat you.


By reversing their momentum.

Which is the exact opposite of what they’re expecting.

Because deep down, they know that if you refuse to take ownership of their emotions, they’re toast.

Kind of like the playground bully, whose ONLY power comes from other kids’ fear of him.

So, next time you face a challenging person, remember:

The key is to relax.
The key is to lower the temperature of the situation.
The key is to remain emotionally unreactive, yet still invested in the conversation.

IN SHORT: If you want to reverse someone’s momentum, it’s all about patience and language.

Today we’re going to explore a list of 10 Phrases That Payses to positively change the dynamic of a conversation with an overly aggressive or hostile person:

1. You’re right. This phrase allows you to enter into another person’s reality. It shows an open mindedness to different opinions and redirects the conversation into a productive direction.

It also acknowledges someone else’s unique point of view. Ultimately, these four results are empathetic and help diffuse emotionally charged individuals.

2. You may be right. Similar to the above example, this phrase diffuses the energy behind someone’s attack AND avoids threatening the attacker. And by giving an impression of active agreement, not passive acquiescence, it avoids adding fuel to the fire.

What’s more, “You may be right” validates a particular part of someone’s argument. Which doesn’t mean you TOTALLY agree with her. But, it does make it easier for the other person to hear your side of the story by way of reciprocation.

3. I agree with you. Similarly, this phrase “agrees with thy adversary quickly,” as the old scripture suggests. It builds common ground on a point of mutual agreement and aligns you with the other person. That way, you’re both on the same side.

Which is how resistance dissipates. Which makes moving toward a solution flow a LOT smoother.

4. Why is that so important to you? This gem is especially effective when someone shoots down EVERY idea you suggest. It identifies a person’s motives and challenges them to honesty examine their emotions, which, if they’ve lashed out at you, probably isn’t something they’ve done yet.

5. Why do you want to know so badly? Similarly, this phrase helps uncover the motivations of someone who seems bit too persistent. Maybe even bordering on pushy.

For example, if a person you’ve just met asks you LOTS of probing questions on the same topic, or constantly asks you the same question over and over again, maybe it’s time to step back and ask why.

6. You must be having a really bad day. Unexpected and empathetic. Demonstrates concern, especially with an irate customer. Also, this phrase assures that you don’t take ownership of the other person’s problem. This ultimately allows them to cool off and approach their situation in a calm, collected manner.

7. I forgive you. When someone is flustered, running late or apologizing profusely, using these three words is almost like a magic tonic. Especially when it’s with a stranger.

See, the peaceful, tender and caring energy of “I forgive you” is incredibly powerful. And observing the way people respond when you say, “I forgive you” is a GREAT mini-lesson in momentum reversal.

8. Thank you. When someone brings a problem or complaint to your attention, make sure the first words out of your mouth are “Thank you,” and not “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry” is negative and self-blaming, and people say it WAY too often. Especially when they’ve done nothing wrong. Now, responding by thanking someone doesn’t mean you’re evading responsibility. If an apology is in order, say it. Just don’t LEAD with it. Instead, after you’ve thanked (aka, honored) the upset person, only THEN say, “I apologize,” or “I’m sorry. You deserve better.”

9. I respect your opinion of my work. My all-time favorite. Perfect for artists and creative professionals. See, if everybody loves your brand, you’re doing something wrong! Likewise, if everybody loves your idea, it’s probably not that good of an idea. So, next time someone expresses a dislike for your work – especially in an attempt to fluster, insult or embarrass you – do three things.

First, pause.
Second, breathe and smile.
Third, tell the person, “I respect your opinion of my work.”

Take it from someone whose work has been made fun of A LOT. I can (almost) guarantee you people will NEVER see THAT one coming! And as a result, you’ll not only leave them with nowhere to go; but you’ll project an attitude of open mindedness and acceptance. Jerks.

10. Silence. Lastly, sometimes the best way to reverse the momentum of an overly aggressive or hostile person is to say nothing at all. To just shut up and let them vent. See, in many cases, that’s all they WANTED: someone to listen to them. To honor them. Or, in some cases, that’s all they NEEDED: someone to serve as a sounding board so they could hear how absurd their words actually were!

In either case, not responding (at all) to someone’s aggression lowers the temperature of the conversation and allows that person to compose himself.

NOTE: Silence is an extremely challenging approach for both parties. See, we live in a hyperspeed; A.D.D. culture where time is money and “the meter is running.” That’s one reason people are so afraid of silence. At the same time, however, that’s ALSO why silence can be so powerful.

– – –

Whichever of the Phrases That Payses you choose to use, remember your mantra: Respond; don’t react.

Combine that foundation with an attitude of patience and calmness, and you’ll be able to reverse the momentum of an overly aggressive or hostile person!

Of course, that’s only (my) short list. What about YOU?

What Phrases That Payses work when you’re trying to reverse the momentum of someone?

Share your examples here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

How are you branding YOUR service?

Tune in to The Frontline on NametagTV.com.

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The IF Factor

Entrepreneurs need to be aware of seven truths, trends and realizations.

I call it “The IF Factor.”

Here goes…

1. IF … everybody loves your idea, you’re doing something wrong.
Stop trying to please everybody. Stop trying to be so well rounded. Stop trying to appeal to the masses.

Pick a lane, narrow your focus and start polarizing some people. It won’t kill you.

REMEMBER: There’s a LOT of customers out there.

2. IF … everybody says you’re crazy, you might just be onto something.
They’re just jealous. Or threatened. Or ignorant. Don’t let the haters get you down. Some people just aren’t worth listening to.

Neitzche said: “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be crazy by those who could not hear the music.”

REMEMBER: People thought Einstein, Edison, Lambert, Ford, Jobs and Gates were crazy! And last time I checked, those guys turned out pretty good.

3. IF … you’re not pissing off (some) people, you’re not doing your job.
Make some waves. Controversy is good. Don’t be afraid to take a side. Have the courage to stand out and stand up for what you believe.

REMEMBER: Feather-ruffling and boat-rocking are good things.

4. IF … at first your idea doesn’t sound absurd, there is no hope for it.
Think of all the great ideas, inventions and innovations that were once laughed at or thought stupid and inefficient: the airplane, the personal computer and the cell phone.

Ha! It’s human nature. That which stands out gets criticized.

As Peter Drucker said, “Anything truly new that looks big is indeed usually distrusted.”

REMEMBER: If people say your idea is far-fetched, consider it a compliment. An omen. A sign of good things to come.

5. IF … nobody’s trying to steal, copy or parody your idea, it’s probably not that good.
The entire soft drink industry was created because everybody kept trying to steal Coke’s recipe.

What are people trying to steal from you?

REMEMBER: The only thing worse than someone trying to steal your idea is NOBODY WANTING to steal your idea.

6. IF … you can’t explain it to a five year old, it’s not simple enough.
We live in a hyperspeed, A.D.D., instant gratification culture. People don’t have the time or attention to sit and figure out what you’re selling.

You need to (kindly) punch them in the face.

You only have a few seconds and a few words. A kindergartener should be able to tell her friends about your idea.

REMEMBER: Customers crave simplicity!

7. IF … people aren’t talking about your idea, you’re in trouble.
Plain and simple: businesses that get talked about get more business. Remarkability wins. And word of mouth is the most authentic, effective and powerful form of marketing in the world.

What’s more, “satisfaction” is no longer enough. This isn’t 1989! “Customer satisfaction” proves NOTHING. Satisfied customers don’t tell their friends about you. Only loyal (or, hopefully, INSISTENT) fans (not even customers) tell their friends about you.

So, remember what Oscar Wilde said: “The only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about.”

REMEMBER: Get noticed = Get remembered = Get business.

What’s your “IF Factor”?

Share it here!

Who’s telling their friends about YOUR company?

Tune in to The Entrepreneur Channel on NametagTV.com!

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…but you didn’t

The most common piece of criticism I receive is:

“Scott, wearing a nametag is not a unique idea. I could have done that!”

And I always respond with the same two comments.

Number one:

You know what? You’re right: you probably COULD have done that.

But you didn’t.

And number two:

You know what? You’re (also) right: wearing a nametag is not a unique idea.

But if you think this whole thing is about wearing a nametag, you’ve haven’t been listening.

Because it’s not about the idea – it’s how you leverage it.

See, ideas are free.

But execution is priceless.

What’s your best quotation on leveraging?

Share it here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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On being unarguable

I was walking down the Las Vegas Strip one day when I saw the coolest t-shirt of all time.

A teenager was wearing it. The front was emblazoned with the New York Yankees logo.

Right above it in big, bold letters, it said: DO THE MATH.

It took me a second, but eventually I figured it out.

See, you can talk all you want about how much you hate the Yankees.

BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS: if you really sit down and do the math, you’d realize that the Yankees are clearly one of the greatest organizations in sports history.

Which makes them unarguable.


And this doesn’t just apply to sports, either.

In business, your goal is to become unarguable.

With your IDEAS.
With your BRANDS.
With your RESULTS.
With your COMPANY.

See, when you’re unarguable, THREE things happen:

FIRST … you disarm customers of their preoccupations.
This leaves them nowhere to go except in your direction.

SECOND … you prove to customers that you have a track record of success.
This reinforces their confidence in working with or buying from you.

THREE … you remind yourself that haters, naysayers and other forms of resistance can say all they want, but nothing can take away the fact that YOU are successful.
This just makes you feel good!

Interestingly, the word “argue” comes from the Latin arguere, which means, “to make clear or demonstrate.”

So, that’s what’s so powerful about being UN-arguable.

The value is self-evident. No explanation needed.

Now, it’s also important to note another thing.

The New York Yankees originated in 1904.

But they didn’t win their first World Series title until 1923.

That’s almost two decades.

Two decades of NOT being the best.
Two decades of NOT being unarguable.

For The Yankees, it was two decades of paying dues.

See, being http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifunarguable isn’t something you just “decide” to become one afternoon.

Anyone or any company that wants to be referred to as unarguable must do a few things:

PAY their dues
That means sucking for a while in the beginning.
That means taking the time (and paying the price) to uncover your unique voice.

ENDURE the criticism
That means ignoring it if it comes from ignorant sources.
That means embracing it if it comes from validated sources.

OBSESS about it
That means projecting unquestionable commitment.
That means eliminating the words “finish line” from your vocabulary.

STICK it out.
That means choosing to do the brave thing by staying in the longer line.
That means having the patience to compound thousands of little activities.
That means becoming the best at what you do by not quitting while everyone else falls by the wayside.

Pay, endure, obsess and stick. That’s how you become unarguable.

OK, one final point.

Being unarguable isn’t for everyone.

Only the dedicated, committed, and (oftentimes) crazy individuals need apply.


If it IS for you, and if you ARE willing to pay the price, here’s what you can expect:

People will still resist you…
People will still not like you…
People will still say whatever they want about you…

…but in the end, when they do the math, they’ll either:

1. Smile and embrace you, or
2. Curl up and realize they can’t do anything to you.

Because, like ‘em or not, you gotta respect the Yankees.

Are you unarguable?

Share your best example of someone (or something) that’s unarguable!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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You’re a creative professional.

That means you make a living off of your ideas.

SO, HERE’S THE BIG QUESTION: how do you deal with people stealing your material?

Tough issue. Has been for a long time.

Plagiarism comes from the Latin plagiare, meaning, “to kidnap.”

It’s defined as “the practice of claiming, or implying, original authorship or incorporating material from someone else’s written or creative work, in whole or in part, into one’s own without adequate acknowledgment.” (From Wikipedia.)

Because idea piracy is such a big issue, here’s a list of seven potential solutions to deal with it:

1. Take legal action. This is an expensive, frustrating and timely pursuit. However, it could pay off in a BIG way if you win. Not to mention, become a deterrent for future offenders. HINT: ask more experienced creative professionals (or lawyers) if you have a case first.

2. Catch it early. You can’t control your online image. You can only monitor and participate IN it. That’s where Google Alerts come in handy. And if you’re tracking the right search terms, you’ll be the first to know when someone is stealing your material. Do you know every time someone is talking about you?

3. Kill ‘em with friendliness. Sometimes “stealing” and “using” isn’t the same thing. Still, it’s your job to find out. For example, last year my Google Alerts informed me that someone WAS using one of my taglines. So, I found they guy’s email, dropped him a line and cordially asked him to stop using my registered trademark. He was totally respectful and apologetic. He had no idea! So, if this happens to you, be friendly first. No need to get nasty or defensive.

4. Karma. Be honest with yourself: have YOU ever stolen someone else’s material? Just something to think about.

5. Protect thy content. On your blog or website, include a piracy notice or reprint policy. Tell visitors they are welcome to use your material if they:

a. Email you to ask for permission
b. Give you full credit with your specified BIO
c. Send you a copy or a link for the inclusion

Most people will respect this, especially if you drop Creative Commons on them.

REMEMBER: people respond to policies.

6. Validate. OK, let’s say someone DOES steal your material. Ask yourself three questions:

a. Will this person’s dishonesty, unoriginality and lack of creativity cause their execution of the idea to fizzle anyway?
b.Is this SUCH a minor incident that I shouldn’t even bother worrying about?
c. Is there really anything I can even do about it?

REMEMBER: Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” Eventually, most thieves get caught.

7. Let it go. The nature of the Internet makes it VERY easy for people to steal material. The question is: how concerned are you?

Creativity Guru Lee Silber says, “Very few people have the intent, ability, follow-through or malice to steal your ideas. Don’t let this fear hold you back. Do what you can to protect yourself and your ideas, and then go out and spread the word.”

So, this isn’t about naivety, this is about reality. Is it really worth losing z’s about? And is it a problem or a predicament?

Those seven approaches notwithstanding, here’s my answer to the idea-stealing issue

The best way to block a punch … no be there.

Those were the words of Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid II.

IN OTHER WORDS: if you don’t want people stealing your material and using your ideas, make them unstealable.

Create and position your material in a manner that is SO unique to you, your brand and your voice … that nobody COULD steal it.

And if they did, people would know it.

That’s what I would do.

Ultimately, whichever approach you choose, just know this: idea piracy DOES happen.

Your challenge as a creative professional is to create a plan that effectively and efficiently deals with it when it does.

And, if you’re one of those unfortunate artists who DOES get her ideas kidnapped, remember this old scripture: (I learned this from my high school English teacher)

“And let us not be wearing in well doing: for in due season we shall reap a harvest if we faint not.”

Because at the end of the creative day…

People who steal ideas are cowards.
People who steal ideas are unoriginal.
People who steal ideas are uncreative.
People who steal ideas are going to get caught.
People who steal ideas are not going to sustain themselves.

So, don’t let it get you down. Piracy is flattery.

After all, if your idea was so good that somebody wanted to steal it, maybe that should tell you something 😉

How do you prevent and/or deal with idea pirates?

Share your best piracy story here, along with how you handled it.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Are you a friend of The Nametag Network?

Read more blogs!
Rent Scott’s Brain!
Download articles and ebooks!
Watch training videos on NametagTV!

Make a name for yourself here…

If everybody says you’re nuts, you just might be onto something

Today is day 2,443.

And lately, I’ve been thinking…

My nametag (for some strange reason) has always seemed to invite negative comments, snide remarks, criticism, hatemail, angry people and even a few death threats!

I know. I don’t get it either. I’m trying to make the world friendlier for God’s sake!

That’s why I always remember what Albert Einstein said, “If at first your idea does not sound absurd, there is no hope for it.”

Still, I often wonder what prompts a stranger to react in such a way. Especially in response to an idea that’s clearly positive and friendly.

Ultimately, I’ve learned that when it comes to Haters, it usually says more about THEM than the person they hate.

What about you?

1. Ever had an idea people thought was crazy?
2. Ever been told to “tone down” your true self?
3. Ever felt completed rejected for doing nothing other than being yourself?

It sucks. Trust me, I’ve been there many, many times.

So, the challenge is twofold:

STEP 1: Shaking it off.
STEP 2: Figuring out WHY someone would respond to you in such a negative way.

The first step is easy.

It’s all about ATTITUDE.

You just brush the invisible dust off your shoulder and say what Tony Montana would say in the movie Scarface.


(In your best mobster accent, of course.)

Because anything that kills your enthusiasm is the enemy.

The second step requires a little more work.

It’s all about VALIDITY.

That is, deciding whether or not someone has the right to be so negative towards you.

In my experience, I’ve found seven common reasons why people are negative. NOTE: these don’t just apply to nametags – they apply to ANYBODY trying to make a name for himself.

1. Jealousy. Here’s an odd statistic: 99% of the criticism, hatemail and negative remarks I get for wearing a nametag are from MEN. Isn’t that interesting? Women rarely seem have an issue with it. Maybe because men, as a whole, are more insecure? I’m not sure. But every time I speak to a new group of people, the overwhelming audience response to why MEN are the only ones who respond so negatively is, “Nah, they’re just jealous.” (Ironically, the ONLY people who ever come up and rip my nametag off are WOMEN. Isn’t that weird?)

THINK ABOUT THIS: Why would someone be jealous of you?

2. Ignorance. Criticism always comes to those who stand out. And when humans don’t understand something (or someone), there’s a visceral response. That’s why ignorance creates fear: it’s a natural defense mechanism. People feel threatened and contaminated by something (or some-ONE) that they perceive as “different.” Now, this doesn’t mean ignorance is bad. Whereas stupidity is “not thinking,” ignorance is simply “not knowing.” You duty is to educate people.

THINK ABOUT THIS: What is it about you that people think is “different,” but later learn is actually UNIQUE?

3. Personal stuff. If someone has no parade of his own, he will try to rain on yours. This will make him feel better about himself. REMEMBER: for some people, their only source of getting up is by bringing others down. Don’t let ‘em get to ya.

THINK ABOUT THIS: Next time someone seems to have a MAJOR issue with something minor, ask him, “Why is this so important to you?”

4. Mirroring. In my favorite book, The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield explains, “When people see others living their authentic lives, it drives them crazy because they’re not living their own.” Yes, the world truly is a mirror. And often times, people simply project their own issues onto you.

THINK ABOUT THIS: Is this person’s criticism unjustifiable?

5. Losers. Seriously, if you have enough time in your day to go to someone’s website, get his email address, then send him a two-page letter telling them what a loser he is for wearing a nametag, you have WAY too much time on your hands. Besides, if I’m such a loser, and my idea is so dumb, then why did I make an entire career out of it? And why are you on my website anyway? Seems a little contradictory, if you ask me.

THINK ABOUT THIS: Is it possible that some people are, in fact, losers?

6. Fear. Some people are just too afraid to be themselves and venture out on their own. They know they can’t make it, so by sabotaging you, they selfishly fulfill the premise of, “If I can have it, nobody should!” Their goal is to use their doubts to reactivate your own, all for the sake of THEIR comfort, not yours.

THINK ABOUT THIS: When you work your butt off and become successful, people will be intimidated by your work ethic. Don’t sweat it. Don’t ever accept someone saying, “You’re making me look bad.” (Here is the complete list of 100 people not to listen to.)

7. Jerks. Some people are just mean to everybody. Period.

THINK ABOUT THIS: At least you’re nice!

NOTE: I am not suggesting you ignore all criticism.

Criticism is healthy. Finding out where you suck is a MUST if you want to make a name for yourself.

But don’t just sit there and take it like a punching bag.

Brush it off initially.
Validate it intelligently.
Act upon it appropriately.

And next time a Hater tries to bring you down, remember what my favorite author Julia Cameron says:

o In the history of the world, no statue has ever been set up in honor of a critic.
o A critic is a someone who knows the way but can’t drive the car
o When people are afraid of being artistically diminished themselves, they may never be able to do anything but diminish you.

After all, if everybody says you’re NUTS, you just might be onto something.

Why do YOU think people respond so negatively to others?

Share your reasons here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Are you the luckiest person you know?

Watch Scott’s interview on 20/20!

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(my version of) The 90/10 Rule

I was listening to Yoko Ono’s show on Satellite Radio yesterday.

She’s actually not a bad DJ. Great taste in music, peaceful speaking voice, and of course, insightful comments between songs.

Right after playing Ray Lamontagne’s title track from Trouble (FYI, best album put out by ANY artist in the past five years) she quoted Nietzsche:

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

MAN. That’s GOT to be the most powerful quotation I’ve heard in a long time.

Kind of got me thinking about (my version of) The 90/10 Rule, aka, “You can’t please everybody.”

Especially when you have new ideas.

Because undoubtedly, about 90% of the people you encounter are going to agree with your ideas, your personality, your philosophies and your work. And the remaining 10% are going to think you suck.

The challenge is that most people get so hung up on the 10 that they forget all about the 90.

BIG mistake.

PERFECT EXAMPLE: I used to waste my time with speaker evaluations. (Gosh, what a waste of paper.) And even when the audience response was overwhelmingly positive, even when I’d give the best presentation of my life, there was always someone just WAITING to be offended.

So I’d get hung up on that one person. And he’d drive me CRAZY! Which meant I allowed the minor negatives overshadow the major positives.

Look. You can’t allow that to happen to you. You’re stronger than that.

You need to forget about the 10 and focus on the 90.

And this isn’t about giving speeches, either.

This is about something bigger. This is about life. This is about dealing with The Haters. This is about having the courage to look someone in the eye and say, “You know what? If you don’t like me, that’s cool. But don’t expect me to waste any time and energy trying to change your mind.”

Just keep dancing. If they can’t hear the music, screw ‘em. Their loss.

1. Don’t try to convert the atheists.
2. Unless the majority says you suck, you probably didn’t suck.
3. Screw the 10. Stick with the 90.

What’s your version of the 90/10 Rule?

Post it here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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The World is a Mirror, Part 18

I is for IDEAS
J is for JOY
M is for MUNDANE
Q is for QUICK

This week I gave a talk to a group of business owners at the annual meeting of the National Potato Council. They were an awesome group!

As usual, towards the end I revealed several of the downsides to wearing a nametag.

This list included, but wasn’t limited to:

*Complete strangers making fun of me
*People starting fights with me
*Hate mail, prank phone calls and rude IM’s
*Anonymous online death threats

The list continues to grow. It makes very little sense. And I’ve been trying to figure it out for years.

Who DOES this kind of stuff to someone whose intentions are clearly positive?

I’ll tell you who: someone who has issues of his own.

Anger. Aggression. Resentment. Fear. Ignorance. Insecurity. Jealousy. Weakness. Whatever you want to call it. These people are just plain rude! (90% of these people are men. Interesting.)

LESSON LEARNED: if someone acts rudely to you, it speaks more about him than it does about you.

A few other gems I’ve learned along the way are…

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.” (Eric Hoffer)

“Fear is the parent of cruelty.” (James Anthony Froude)

“Envy and resentment may be motives for bullying.” (Wikipedia)

“Aggression is directed to and often originates from outside stimuli, but has a very distinct internal character.” (Wikipedia)

“Some people learned their manners from sitcoms. They believe in the myth of the ‘funny rude’ person. These people are those self-appointed clowns who try to get a laugh at any price, and of course the easiest way to get laughs is to insult others. They haven’t yet discovered that the price of rude humor ranges from hurt feelings to divorce proceedings. On television, the victims of insults never get offended, never harbor hurt feelings — how conveniently lucky for the insulters. But in real life, psychology doesn’t work that way.” (J.E. Brown’s paper called Why Are People Rude?)

In the end, some people are just going to be rude to you. Even if it has nothing to do with you. Guess you just have to shake ’em off.

I just think it’s funny that a stranger (who clearly hates my guts) will take a half-hour out of his day to write me hate mail.

Who’s the crazy one now?

What motivates people to be rude?

Post your hypotheses here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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A few thoughts on handling assholes

As someone who’s received a good amount of hate mail, plenty of criticism and yes, even death threats, today I’d like to talk about how to handle assholes.

When someone acts mean or crudely to you, it’s because:

*He thinks you dislike him
*He is threatened by you
*He is a jerk to everyone
*You’ve given him a reason to dislike you

Here’s how to handle this situation:

1. Pause before you react. Think honestly about what he said. Don’t defend the accusation unless you’re being appropriately attached.

2. If you’ve clearly messed up, own up. No excuses. Simply offer a valid reason why you did what you did, even if it’s as simple as, “I wasn’t thinking.”

3. Ask for more detail. Fully understand what happened. Also ask him to help you avoid similar problems in the future.

4. Don’t over apologize. Thank him for his feedback.

Now, sometimes you’ll discover absolutely NO reason for someone’s cruelty. He’s just an asshole to everyone, you think.

Good! This means you won’t have to bother wasting much time or energy with this asshole. Try one of these options:

IGNORE IT. Smile and move on. I can’t emphasize the importance of smiling. Assholes thrive on your anger. So, when you’re faced with a one of them, smiling really, REALLY pisses them off.

DEFLECT IT. Either say, “Wow, you’re really upset about this,” or “You must be having a bad day.” Don’t get sucked into the “bait game.” Don’t get defensive or upset. Instead, responses like this reverse the direction of the conversation and show the jerk that you refuse to take ownership of the his problem.

Good luck. May the Schwartz be with you.

How do you deal with assholes?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

The Nametag Guy’s final post of 2006

So, I was hoping to have this AMAZING year-end post that (a) wrapped up everything I learned in 2006, (b) left you with a poignant point to ponder or (c) was really, really funny.

But I got nothing.

It’s been the busiest, craziest, most fun and most educational year of my life. And I’m tired.

However, before I call it a year, I wanted to share one final story.

On October 20th, I received an email from a meeting planner at a Fortune 500. For the record, I changed the person’s name and sex. Here’s what it read: (emphasis mine)

Dear Scott,

I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate you into our world. Annually my group has a national meeting. In the past speakers have not really added ROI for the $$$ we pay to have them.

Have you spoken for any pharmacy companies before? Although I love your “down to earth” approach, you would have to tone that down a bit due to all of our inhouse redtape (diversity, etc.).


Jackson Green, CMP

* * * *

OK. Here’s what I wrote back to him:

Morning Jackson! Great to hear from you.

I actually just took on a new client in the pharmacy industry. Approachability is huge for reps in that arena, so I would love to be a part of your annual event.

However, while I respect the culture of your company, it’s important for you to know something: I never tone down who I am.

If you think the type of style I bring to the stage will offend people or make them uncomfortable, that’s totally cool. I understand and I don’t expect everyone to like me! But if that’s the case, then I’m probably not a good fit for your company.

Take care.


Do you think he wrote me back?

If someone asks you NOT to be yourself, screw ’em.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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