Posted by: Norm | October 3, 2009

Serving Intimidating People

Some people must have been raised in a Jerry Springer house on a Jerry Springer street in a Jerry Springer neighborhood.  They are experts at argument, innuendo, bullying, intimidation and lying.  When you have to do business with them you come away feeling like you’ve been slimed by being in their presence.  They really do everything within their power to destroy you in an effort to save a buck or simply to get their way. 

I come across these kinds of people, maybe, once every couple years.  You can see I’m referring to the truely noxious person here, not your run-of-the-mill folks who are merely argumentative.  The kind of person I’m depicting is nuclear toxic in thought, speech, countenance and force.  A child or spouse should never have to live with kind of person.

You find them in all walks of life.  From rich to poor, educated to uneducated, owner to employee . . . you get the idea.  Sociologically, they run the gamut of human standards.

So what do you do when faced with such a person?  My ears perk and my mind goes into “caution mode” when I recognize one of these yahoos. 

1.  To begin with, I try to answer the questions he permits me to answer.  I don’t go back and remind him he asked a certain question.  I already know the answer was not important to him because he cut me off from answering by another question or mono-burst of force.  

2.  I let him grind, let him gnaw on whatever topic is germane to his design.  It usually has to do with the untruth worthiness/deceptiveness/greed of my profession.  He has no idea I know my work and would confidently have it paraded before my peers. 

3. He will attack me personally next and usually end with a repitition (the more he repeats, the less sure he is of his argument) of our business’ faults and my unprofessional response to his blatherings.  

4. At this point, he has usually not received all that he wants, but his steam is losing pressure.  He asks several more questions trying to revisit information we have already covered and I know he will make no further arguments for change.

5.  He will conclude the conversation with several more threats for good measure.

6.  Funny thing, you talk with him an hour later because you want to call and let him know a detail or two and he is basically restrained.  Threats have fallen by the wayside.  We can now get down to providing what the person deserved (and needed) in the first place.  Oddly, these folks often stand next to the grave with me several days later and thank me for our company’s service and my attention to the family.

On several occasions, they have returned and asked for me to write their mother or father’s funeral prearrangement.

It ends well . . . but it can be Hell getting there if you don’t know what you’re doing.



  1. Brilliant and from the enlightened man I know you to be…………and if one understands where that behavior comes from, it is easier to deal with. Deeply rooted in fear, primal fear, probably……from the terrified unruddered child part of the person. That is why, I suspect, that your unyielding, remarkably calm approach ultimately soothes the insecurity and brings the person to a safe port. I see the child holding your hand then, happy, trusting and secure in your presence……the storm of emotion, the tantrum, passed now.

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