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Episode 013: Putting yourself out there to meet new people and engage in conversations is usually a good experience. Now and again you may find, however, that you are in an uncomfortable situation or conversation. When this happens it can be confusing and intimidating to figure out what to do to end the conversation in a professional manner. This concern is completely normal, especially if you are not yet completely confident in networking situations. In this episode Eric talks about one situation that can be especially awkward… dealing with “the jerk”. The jerk is pushy, overbearing and doesn’t seem able to take a hint. Let’s talk about ways to deal with that situation so you’re ready if it happens to you.
Maybe you’ve been cornered by someone pushy or overbearing at a meeting or event. I’ll share some simple things to help you get out of the situation.
I’ve met a lot of people in my career and now and again I have had to deal with someone who was out of line or just too pushy. You don’t have to put up with it.
I learned some tips over the years that have been useful in dealing with those that seem to have no boundaries. I’ll share some simple tips in this episode.
It’s also worth noting that this is the first part of a two part series. The second will deal with a more subtle situation. Today we’re talking about blatant, easy to spot behavior that’s making you feel uncomfortable.
As always, safety first! But even if it doesn’t rise to that level there are effective things you can do to extricate yourself that will help you be prepared when and if you get cornered by “that guy” in the future.
Leave a comment!
When we’re networking, our goal is to go to places and meet people and have conversations. Sometimes we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations. We’re gonna talk about that today. Today, Jerk, huh? So one of the things it’s difficult or can be difficult about going out to network and to meet people interact with them is we may run into a couple of different kinds of situations where we are uncomfortable. This kind of uncomfortable is not the kind of uncomfortable that comes from not being prepared or not knowing what I’m doing. It’s the kind of uncomfortable that’s actually put on us by other people who we might be meeting. There are two types of situations where having to get out of an uncomfortable conversation can be necessary. This is the first of two part series where I’m going to talk about that because there are two distinct situations or types of situations that I’ve seen over the years, and I want to tackle them separately because how you handle each of them can be very, very different. The 1st 1 is best illustrated by a story that a good friend of mine told me about her very first networking experience out of school. She went to an event that was a networking event, professional event, and she was meeting people and she met that guy and he cornered her and was being pushy and being intimidating and basically made her so uncomfortable at this event that she was a bit traumatized, To be honest and didn’t go to a networking event for 20 years, totally cutting that kind of event out of your life can significantly curtail your career development. And that’s something that she I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out. Eventually she did. She’s running a successful business. I want to talk about this because I have not only seen this happen with other people during events, but I’ve also had it happened to me as well, and I have to be honest, especially early in my career. When it happened. I just didn’t know what to do about it. Somebody would approach. They were very pushy. They were very intimidating and very insistent, and they wouldn’t take no for an answer. And I didn’t know what to do. And it was unbelievably uncomfortable because I was in sales at that point. It didn’t prevent me from going to networking events because it was part of my job, and I think it’s an important topic for us to talk about. I also would really like people to comment on this episode and tell everyone how you have handled this in the past and what you have experienced, because I believe this is an area where the community can come together and help each other.
I also think that a lot of the people who are perpetrating this are not necessarily doing it on purpose. Absolutely, there are people out there who are doing this on purpose. I’m thinking of a couple people specifically that I’ve known through my career. One of them whose favorite book was winning through intimidation, I think might have been the title of the book, but that was his entire approach. Those people will talk about it in a minute. That’s very different than somebody who was trained poorly or misunderstands what they’re doing or just has a lack of awareness. First and foremost, however, I wanna be emphatic about this. If you at any point feel that you are in danger, you need to get out of that situation and you need to let somebody know. And if it rises to the level that you think it’s that threatening, getting law enforcement involved is absolutely appropriate. At very least, you can let somebody else at the event know what’s going on so that they can help you. Safety first. Don’t ever feel that you can’t get out of a situation if you’ve really, truly feel unsafe. Now, if there’s a situation where it doesn’t rise to that level of threat, it still doesn’t mean that it doesn’t generate a reaction in you that isn’t completely appropriate. So somebody who is being pushy or overly domineering in a conversation or overly insistent and a conversation is showing you that they’re not respecting your boundaries and that’s not appropriate. That’s you have every right toe push back on that and say, No, you can’t do that. If you are feeling uncomfortable or that’s making you feel small or weak in the interaction than those air signs that something is wrong. And this is not a healthy situation for you to remain in Honestly, what’s happening here is that the other person, knowingly or not knowingly, is trying to manipulate and controlled you and your experience being put in this situation by somebody. Not only are you dealing with the behavior being thrust upon you, but you were also potentially aware that you need to react to it but that other people are going to be watching how you react and that can make it even more difficult and can make you feel trapped in this situation. And I want to share that. My opinion is you don’t ever have to stay trapped in any situation. You have the right to not be treated that way and to not be in that kind of situation. First off, if you find yourself in that kind of situation, I recommend you take a really deep breath so that you counter act your body’s stress response, which will help you instantly think a little bit more clearly. Take a couple of deep breaths while the jerk is being the jerk. Recognize what’s going on and then you’re thinking will hopefully be a little more clear. Your goal is to end the conversation because if they are not respecting your boundaries and they are insistent, overly domineering, they’re being too pushy. There is no point in continuing that interaction in that conversation. Don’t worry about being rude. It’s very possible that the jerk isn’t even aware to that level. And as soon as you, the current target of their behavior, is out of the picture, they’re just going to search for another target. It’s like a shark. They’re going to swim around until they bump into something they want to eat, so you don’t have to worry about being rude to them and having it be a bad reflection on you. Ultimately, chances are this person may not even remember that you exited the conversation abruptly. Now I don’t recommend you necessarily start screaming and yelling at somebody unless there’s ah really safety issue. But you can just end the conversation and walk away. If you want to do that, that is totally appropriate. Do whatever you feel most comfortable with. As with everything on this show. Take what you want and use it. Leave the rest. Hopefully you’ll get something useful out of this. The biggest thing in my mind that helped me the most was realizing that being rude to this person was my interpretation of my behavior. They did, Obviously didn’t care that they were being rude because they were being rude all over me. And so being a little rude back, not a problem. So once I understood that, I started to think about Well, what are some techniques in some ways that you can get out of conversations? So if you have some again, I would be very interested in hearing what you would share about techniques and ways. You have gotten out of conversations over the years as well that we’re uncomfortable that you needed to get out of First off. You can start with reacting to something else going on in the room. You see somebody? You noticed something. You look away and obviously you see something. Give him the full expression and then excuse yourself. Oh, I see someone else I need to talk to. Oh, excuse me. I need to go handle something. You do not necessarily need to give them any details about this. You can just get out of there. You can give them a Because if you’d like to Oh, I need to go because I see somebody else I need to speak with. Now, If you do that, you probably want to go and actually speak to somebody. This is one reason why sometimes having ah, networking buddy can be helpful. There’s some reasons why you may not want to buddy up too much because people tend to congregate and only talk to the people they know. But if you have a buddy system set up at the event where you can at any point in the event, come up to that person you know and say hi, I just need you to talk to me is something you can set up in advance. And it’s perfectly appropriate if you find yourself in a conversation, you need to get out of that can be very helpful. So use the buddy system. Oh, excuse me. I have to go talk to that person and then go talk to your buddy. Or, if there’s genuinely somebody else you’d rather talk to be upfront and say, You know, nice to meet you, but I’m sorry. I see somebody I have to meet and I am going to go over and then go meet somebody that you actually think you really want to talk to. That’s totally appropriate as well. Any other excuse to leave the conversation is also appropriate. If you want to break this down into sort of a formula, you create an expression. There’s an expression on your face. You see something? You remember something. You think of something. Then you deliver the excuse, which is the reason why you’re going to leave the conversation. I see somebody. I need to go to the restroom. I have to make a phone call. Doesn’t matter what it is. And then you exit. You remove yourself from the area of that person. I personally happened to like the I have to go to the restroom and then go to the restroom. This works particularly well in my experience. If the person you’re talking to is of the opposite sex because they’re not gonna follow you into the bathroom, I’m talking to someone. She’s being way too much and I say I’m sorry, I need to go to the restroom and then I exit and go to the restroom end of conversation. And then when you come back into the room, you can make a decision about what to do. Then you can connect up with your buddy. You can decide if this person is really going to start following you around. Then you can leave the event. Or if you can avoid that person during the rest of the event, then that’s totally appropriate to That’s up to you. So there’s your get out of the conversation formula on expression that tells them you’re reacting to something. Your excuse. I have to go do X, and then you leave you exit and do it as quickly as possible. And if you don’t want to exchange business cards with them, don’t leave abruptly. That’s okay. Remember, being rude is not really your biggest concern at this point. It’s easy to say all of that when you’re not in that situation. So one of the things that I would recommend is, as I said before, maybe identify a body or two or three who, you know are going to be at these events than you can partner together. Those people are also good to practice with.
So being in the situation, remembering this and delivering these smoothly and comfortably for you may not be easy to do. I understand that. So practice with a friend or a colleague that you trust. You may trip over the words. It may feel really strange. It may even feel disingenuous. Remember, that’s okay. We’re dealing with the jerk, just like everything else in networking. If you practice it than it will flow more smoothly when you’re in the situation, this basic process can really help you get through a bunch of these situations. As I said, I’ve used multiple excuses and this process that’s three step process over and over and over over the years, and it works really well, so hopefully this is helpful to you. I would very much like to hear your opinions about a that the three steps I’m suggesting, but also I am very interested in hearing what other techniques or excuses perhaps you have seen used or used yourself to get out of the uncomfortable conversation to gracefully exit the conversation. When you find yourself stuck with the jerk in the next episode, we will talk about a little more tricky situation when the person is not being the jerk and there’s a little bit more to that and you. In that case, it’s a little less cut and dried, but there are still ways that you can deal with that situation as well, and we’ll talk about those things. As always, I am super grateful that you’re listening to the show. I’m very happy to be able to do this and open this conversation. I want you to participate. I want youto leave a comment or get on the website and record a question or a thought or a story if you feel so inclined. If you could leave a review all, especially on Apple podcasts for this show, that would be fantastic. That really helps other people who are looking for a resource or looking to join this conversation with us. It makes it that much easier for people to do so thank you very much. I appreciate it, and I look forward to talking to you again about the second part of this. In the meantime, remember, life is an adventure, so keep exploring.