What angry IHOP people can teach you about business.

I had a shitty moment at IHOP today. It damn near ruined my whole day, too.

For those of you who don’t already know me, I’m a rather feisty redhead with a foul mouth who just so happens to have several visible tattoos.

angry redhead mad face

A miniature version of me, but with fewer tattoos.

Image credit | _gee_

I am also a writer. Specifically, a copywriter. I write marketing and advertising materials and offer branding consultation to business owners. I was in IHOP this morning being a mooch.

Neverending pot of coffee? Check.

Free wifi? Check.

Decent enough breakfast and working environment? Check, check.

In fact, that was most of my morning. For the better part of three hours, it was coffee, a few phone calls, and mostly me quietly keeping to myself, writing up a storm and preparing this website for its official debut.

In hour three, a woman came in with a group of eight, including a young girl who had to be no more than 10.

About 15 minutes later, a friend of mine came in. As I closed my check and prepared to leave, my friend and I started talking about our weekend.  I had seen the young girl, so in an attempt to keep my foul-mouthedness in check I may have uttered the words “jerk” and “douche” during my conversation with my friend. It wasn’t loud so much as this lady had opted to sit her party right next to us in the otherwise empty back room of the restaurant.

As we got up to leave, I heard the lady at the next table say, “Good, it looks like the jerks are leaving”. Say what?

angry monkey with mohawk screaming

What I imagine I looked like, but without the awesome mohawk.

Image credit | dboy

I stopped dead in my tracks and turned around.

I made eye contact with the lady, and softly and calmly said, “thank you. I appreciate that.” Then I held eye contact long enough to make her uncomfortable, until she gave me the “oops you busted me” face and waved in apology. My friend and I left, and I ranted all the way out the door and to lunch.

evil looking angry grumpy cat

Nothing I could say would be funnier than this angry cat.

Image credit | gumuz

How DARE that woman? If she’s listening in on my conversation, what right does she have to judge my language? She doesn’t even seem to care that I WAS watching my language. I got myself all worked up over the NERVE of that woman. I even vented on Facebook (shocking!).

Then after a protracted lunchtime rant, I suddenly realized how ridiculous I was being.

Yes, she was rude. But did I really care? Not a single damn bit.

She’s not my friend. She’s not my family. She’s not my customer.

She’s not my target market. 

She will never get it. She’ll never understand that I was attempting to be polite in my own way, because she has her own definition of what is polite and there is no overlap. Her definition of acceptable look and dress and public behavior is radically different from mine.

And that’s a common mistake many business owners make. Sometimes, even when you try, people will get pissed off because they just don’t get it. They operate on a different wavelength, and if you spend all your time catering to them, you’ll lose sight of what makes you special in the eyes of your biggest fans.

So what if that lady doesn’t like me or the way I talk or that I add relentlessly to my tattoo collection?

There are lots of people who LOVE those things about me.

So take that into consideration next time you run into someone who tries to berate you, take advantage of you, or otherwise make you feel small.

They don’t get it. 

In business and in life, you need to go out there and find those people who DO get it. They’re going to stick around because they like you, not because you’re the cheapest or the best looking. Those are the clients and customers that will be with you for the long haul because they understand the value you bring with your unique approach.

As Oscar Wilde said…be yourself, everyone else is taken.

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