Settling Scores and Dealing with Lunatics

If you are in business for long, you will run across people who manage to take advantage of you. They will steal from you, cheat you, short-change you, and sometimes try to destroy you.

How you respond to those people is important. I have been thinking about that all day. Here’s why…

I recently bought a piece of software and quickly discovered that the developer is basically a lunatic. I am not a shrink but I have plenty of experience with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and he fits most of the criteria. Within a few days when things did not go well, he got abusive. In fact, he called my customer order line, asked for me and proceeded to harangue me until I hung up on him.

If you see success in business, you are going to run into lunatics too, especially NPDs or people with similar mental problems. There are way too many of them running around these days and many of them are overachievers in business. That is why it is absolutely a relevant issue to address on this blog.

Let’s start with this: NPDs will find your buttons and they will likely make you mad. That is not a healthy place for you. Be very careful about acting when you are mad. Be careful if you catch yourself saying “it is the principle of the thing.” Normally, it isn’t. You are just reacting and very often, it is not going to end well.

Here is the thing. While you can usually make a NPD pay, it often is a good idea to just walk away. Let them win. The reason you sometimes need to let them win is because they are dangerous. Let me be clear: they are not dangerous because of their power because they probably are not very powerful at all. Their danger comes from the fact that they are unpredictable and do not play by normal rules.

In this case, I am dealing with a kid that works full time and runs his tiny one-person software shop on the side. His annual revenue is probably well less than a week of our revenue. There is no power there.┬áNevertheless, he is dangerous because of his mental state and lack of scruples. He is capable of doing a lot of things that could hurt my business. I won’t say what they are but there are things that I have no doubt he might want to try.

You really have to count the cost and decide if it is worth it to go against someone who does not play by normal rules. The goal of your business is not to settle all the injustices in the world. Neither is your goal to rat out all the NPD nuts running around. Your number one goal as a small business is to survive, and your number two goal is to make money. Starting a war with a NPD is not going to help either of those goals.

Now, I am not saying that you necessarily have to roll over and play dead. I left the dude a bad review to help make the business community a better place by warning others; and I disputed the charge with my credit card company so I will get my money back. However, I did so knowing that the final price may be higher than what I originally paid for that software if he reacts as NPDs tend to do. I can afford that risk right now, but I have not always been in a place where I could have.

Just be careful. The best way to handle NPDs and other abusive people is usually to root them out of your life and move on rather than going to battle. Remember: the best revenge is living well.

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