Confronting Difficult Situations (or Putting On Your Big Girl Panties)

As the Leader of an entrepreneur Community, small biz owner and a good listener, one of my favorite expressions is “Put your big girl panties on.”  I am not going to take a whole paragraph explaining how none of us likes to have difficult conversations, we are all in agreement on that.  But let’s ponder situations where you MUST put your big girl panties on (PYBGPO) and deal with things head on ( and a few tips to make it easier).  You are a strong woman!  A business owner.  A leader.  A boss.  Finding yourself feeling uncomfortable isn’t the time to regress to a whimpering 12 year old girl and have  a man, your assistant, your cell phone or your mommy handle it.

1.  Firing an employee (otherwise known as hell)

The time will come when you must do this.  It is hard enough when you are firing someone for their lousy job performance but wait until you must fire someone because you are restructuring or downsizing…hell.  If you are the boss, business owner or the one this employee reports to, this deed falls on you.  So PYBGPO and do it.  What’s the best way?  First, make sure you have all of your legal ducks in a row.    If your company isn’t large enough to have an in house HR department, pay for an outside one.  I use the HR resources through Paychex.  Call the employee into a private area either when they first come in or at the end of the day.  I always bring one other person in the room with me to document the situation but they keep quiet.  DO NOT MINCE WORDS.  Just state the reason they are being let go one time, very slowly and without a lot of extra words.  Do not apologize.  Be deliberate and once the room breathes a bit, call the meeting done and get up and leave the room.  The moment you start to listen to any emotions or show any of your own, your meeting will go downhill and be unproductive to both of you.  I know!  This sounds harsh and not every firing can be this simple.  But aim for it.  Dave Ramsey has a great chapter in his book “Entreleadership” that will also assist you in this difficult situation.

2.  You F-ed up

You did.  You royally f*#^ed up.  You texted something to someone who shouldn’t have seen it.  You hit “reply all” on the email that slammed a vendor.  Someone overheard your nasty comments about a competitor and spread it around your community.  Now what do you do?  Ignore it and it will go away?  NO..PYBGPO and pick up the phone (using your voice not your fingers) and call the victim and apologize.  Suck it up.  Be humble.  Own it.  You did screw up.  They are going to appreciate you and gasp, maybe even forgive you because you admitted your mistake.  How to make this situation easier?  You could have a glass of wine before you make the call but really, this is only going to feel easier once you say you are sorry.  The weight of the guilt will be lifted and you will immediately feel lighter.

3.  You hate the mess you got yourself into

In an effort to make a few connections, you volunteered for a committee on an event.  Once year’s worth of service was fine but now they are calling you back every year to help and you really don’t have the time now.  A biz friend has been begging to redo your logo, but you have seen her work and it isn’t your style yet you agree to pay her to give it a shot.  We all at one time or another bite off more than we can chew, time wise or financially.  Letting someone down sucks!  But building a big, fat resentment sucks more.  PYBGPO and just say no.  Like firing someone, it is best to not mince words.  Keep it short and simple.  Don’t apologize.  Just state the reason and move on.  I promise that once you try this a few times, it will get easier and people will NOT hate you.  But if they do, they weren’t really your friends to begin with (just like Mom always used to say).  You will find that people actually start to respect you, your time and your money more.

After reading this you might be thinking that I am such a bitch.  Heck, just typing it makes me think I am a bitch.  But now that I am in my 40’s ( I know! I look 25! wink wink), I wish I had learned some of these tools in my 30’s.  Some people may be put off by my bluntness.  However, when I think back to situations that have been difficult, the ones that were handled when I was wearing my big girl panties went so much better than the ones where I hid out or behind someone or something.  Think of me as your business big sister and take my advice.  Practice makes perfect and your big girl panties don’t have to be ugly; buy some pretty ones!


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