Last year Anne and I attended a fantastic wedding-industry event called Engage! On the first day, Randy Fenoli, a frequent speaker at the conference, walked up to the stage and asked the assembled crowd, “How many of you have had a bridezilla?” Of course many hands, including mine, went up. What he said afterward shamed me and helped remind me of something I once learned but had forgotten.

We’ve all had a client (at least one, probably more) that demanded more than what we thought was fair. Maybe we pushed back, maybe we went along, maybe we went along and then pushed back. Each situation is different. But the one guiding principle I’ve found when dealing with all of this is to remember something the Dalai Lama says to himself every time he meets someone new: “This person is just like me!”

What does this mean?

We are all obviously human, and all obviously seek happiness and to try to avoid suffering. We manifest these desires in different ways but it’s the same story, just told differently. So if we can remind ourselves that this client who has us at the end of our rope and asking for more is just like us, it helps us keep perspective and a sense of empathy, which leads inevitably to a solution. That solution isn’t necessarily based on who is “right” or who is “wrong” but is based on addressing the needs of both parties. Sometimes this requires compromise. But if the solutions proposed are created from the perspective of “This person is just like me!” it makes it much easier to achieve consensus and create a mutual solution. It’s much harder when you hold on to that grudge. It doesn’t do anyone any good anyway. It just sits there and rots. What’s the point?

New Orleans color