[This article originally appeared in the June/July 2006 issue of BizBash magazine.]
Lillian Glass, Ph.D., is a communications and body language expert and author of more than a dozen books, including Toxic People: 10 Ways of Dealing With People Who Make Your Life Miserable, and her latest book, I Know What You’re Thinking: Using the Four Codes of Reading People to Improve Your Life.
What should people know about V.I.P.s’ personalities that will make them easier to deal with?
The main thing is to treat them with the utmost respect because many of them have big egos, but you don’t want to over-flatter them. Don’t worry about impressing them, be more concerned about being interested in what they have to say.
What communication tactics work best when dealing with inflated egos?
Project confidence in your body language. Stand up straight, make facial contact, look at their eyes, nose, and mouth when you talk to them. Also, you need to hold your head up. Look attentively at the person and show them you are interested in what they have to say.
How can you make dealing with important guests as painless as possible?
Ask for their feedback and get them involved because you want them to feel like you are both on the same team. Support them in their suggestions, saying, “That’s a great idea, let me see what I can do.” You don’t want to alienate them; you want to appease them.
When people are really obnoxious, how can you make the situation better?
If they are really acting obnoxious, it’s not your problem, it’s theirs. Don’t take it personally. Don’t react to them. Be calm even if they are irritated. It will help diffuse the situation. Remember “ABC”: always be cool.
Low- or mid-tier celebrities are said to be more impossible than the highest-level stars. Why is this and how can you deal with them?
[It’s] because they want to show power because they don’t have that much. There is not much you can do about it, but maintain an open level of communication. If they are that bad, you may want to go to a higher-up, but you will be taking a chance because the higher-ups may be on their side.
Is there ever a point when you should say “no” to a big client?
No. No matter what they request, make it happen. Cater to them and make them feel good, because if they do, they will respect you more. The winners in life are the ones who go beyond the call of duty.