As a business, dealing with assholes can be annoying. As a small business, dealing with assholes can be derailing -- if we let them. And we know firsthand that they will try. It's taken me years of practice, and sadly, much too much experience to even feel like I have enough expertise in this department to write this "how to" post.
Here are six steps to successfully navigate a bad interaction or nasty relationship in your business.
1. Learn to recognize an asshole. Not everyone who disagrees with you is an asshole. People who are direct with their opinions are not necessarily assholes (I don't agree with many, and always express my opinion, and don't believe that makes me a complete asshole). What sets assholes apart from people with opinions are their motives. Assholes are inconsiderately mean as they force their opinion on you, often to make you feel small or simply justify their inappropriate actions. Or, they might only be considering themselves because assholes are typically self-centered too. Just learn to identify these characters early on and avoid working with them -- think of it as a bad investment of your time.
2. Don't argue with assholes. Assholes drag you down to their level and will always beat you at being an asshole. Online, this is called "not feeding the trolls." In business, this is called "not wasting your time." It's also helpful to consider this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: "For every minute you are angry you lose 60 seconds of happiness."
3. Move forward. Place your focus on moving forward. Move past a bad interaction. Move away from a toxic relationship. Don't stay only to be dragged backwards. Don't get distracted by the negative. Live in the positive and simply acknowledge the negative. Is being right more important to you than being happy? It shouldn't be. Move on and let it go. Extra incentive in business: you will make more, and find more success investing in your business, than investing in assholes. Do good work for a billable client rather than sending negative emails, or retaining an expensive lawyer, which so often does not result in anything but a huge bill.
4. It's okay to scream -- sometimes. But the best revenge is kicking ass, so do that instead. Not that we encourage revenge unless it's by doing something great for yourself. Let karma take care of them, and you can take care of yourself. Also, try my favourite meditation - it takes two minutes and really works wonders.
5. Keep putting yourself out there. The more people you meet, the more great people you will also connect with. Staying in and shying away from people because of a bad interaction (or 10) gets you nowhere...fast. Think of the laws of probability -- the more people you work with, the more assholes you may encounter but you will also connect with more great people, diluting down the assholes and giving you the faith in humankind we all need! We believe that good people, doing good things need to stick together and we hope you do too.
6. Learn from the assholes. Even though they are assholes, all experiences can teach you something -- or a lot. So, take what you can from them -- it will help you prevent some assholes from taking advantage of you in the future, it will remind you how to (or how to not to) treat others, and it will remind you to appreciate the positive forces in your life even more.
One of my favourite quotes is, "If you aren't outraged, then you just aren't paying attention." Be outraged, but don't let it drag you down, let it fuel you to create better and do better.
Here's my challenge to you. They say that one in every 10 businesses succeeds. I say that one in every 10 businesses acts as a positive force. Make your business that business. Make it your mission to find the other nine in 100 businesses to be positive forces with, starting today.
Those are your people. Spend your energy on them.
And forget the assholes.
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