Below is the basic gist of the above video.
I was asking someone who had also been sold a fake bill of goods a year ago, how long it took for her to stop feeling angry. She said “I’ll let you know when I do”. It made me laugh, but I also understood.
Have you ever easily trusted someone only to realize, man oh man, you’ve been conned? Yep? Well me too. It really sucks, eh?
So here’s the background. After a car accident and a minor brain injury (all better now) the medical team insisted I get a business coach for support and guidance to re-launch myself in business after a long time away.
Well I found someone who was going to help me develop new marketing and sales processes. In fact, when I told her I was also going to redo my whole website and marketing materials she told me that was their specialty. Then she took my entire budget for my business coaching AND the website redo and offered to do both for a more “cohesive experience than working with 2 different companies”. That made sense to me.
She is probably the 7th or 8th business marketing coach I’ve worked with. I was excited. I was pumped. These are always enriching experiences. Until now.
I have never been treated more disrespectfully and arrogantly in my life. She kept talking down to me telling me I wasn’t understanding as she made changes to my business without even asking me my thoughts. She never asked what I wanted and referred to everything as “we agreed that…” She even went as far as to tell me that I was not to continue my speaking career because it wasn’t a real thing. Really?!? Well, tell that to my speaking colleagues in my Professional Speaker’s Association. Can you imagine someone dismissing your industry as “non-valid”?
In 6 weeks of coaching, this “marketing team” had gone over my elevator pitch over and over and over and over again. I kept asking for the next step. There didn’t seem to be a next step.
As for the website, after many delays on their part, I had handed all the requirements for them to design it. This woman responded by sending me an email to stop, reflect celebrate and let her know how this process and working with them has helped my business.
Clearly, I was being manipulated into writing a testimonial. I replied it was too soon to “celebrate” anything and that I was looking forward to the finished website. I had been staying calm and professional all the way through dealing with both of them.
Then she got mad Again. She told me to stop everything, focus and send an email about the benefits of working with them before they start putting the website together. Let’s just say, this was not pretty. My next email was clear that she was not to hold my website hostage to get a testimonial.
So I share with you what I did and what I learned so I could move on.
Here are 3 anxiety melting strategies you should do to move on during a bad experience:
- Talk to others about what was happening. If you are being gaslighted, like in my case, until you open up to someone unbiased about what your experience is, you will not see it. In my case, it was the doctors that clearly identified that the things she was saying to me about my memory being defective were completely false. She had me doubting myself instead of questioning my misplaced trust. Once others piped in, I was able to recognize her stigmatizing and manipulative behaviours.
- Review what can be salvaged. A month in, it became clear I was not going to get the business coaching and guidance promised. Because of the one-sided and incomplete contract, I was not going to be able to get any of the money back. However, the website, that is a concrete thing I could insist on. So that became my only focus and its all I wanted to talk about once I stopped and looked at the salvageable bits.
- Practice radical acceptance. I can’t tell you how hard this one was. When you realize you’ve been conned, as one of my speaking colleagues called it, it can really eat away at you. I felt foolish, embarrassed, infuriated, hurt and sad, all at the same time. But letting go is how to make sure that they don’t live rent free in my head so that I can focus all that energy into something of value.
Here are 3 things I would do to protect myself in a future long term coaching arrangement:
- Breakdown elements of the contract and consider paying in increments. I paid upfront for the whole 3 month coaching program with the website included, which I now realize did not exist yet. If I had been paying month to month or had a way of cancelling parts of the contract, I would have cut my losses, taken the money for the website and could have left this toxic relationship sooner.
- Contact people who had given them testimonials. After her coercive attempts to get a testimonial out of me, I wondered what others would say in a live interview. Do better due diligence.
- Have a robust written agreement with an exit strategy for both. We need to have more control over the agreement. For example, from now on, I want to be the one who will record our coaching calls. That was a verbal agreement that she would do our calls on zoom and record them. They were supposed to send them to me. That didn’t happen when the call was particularly disrespectful. Suddenly, “the recording didn’t work”. Build in more control.
So there you have it. 3 strategies to get out of anxiety and 3 lessons to protect yourself down the road.
I’m gonna be totally OK!
I’m so grateful to my former website designer who remained incredibly professional and took on the balance of the job even though she is incredibly busy. We figure they did about 75% of it, not mobile friendly, photos with water marks, full of weird sections. But she is carving out time to get it looking professional and live in 2 weeks. So grateful.
One of the pages on my soon to be launched website:
Once I started being honest about what had happened, I got so much love and support. I shouldn’t have kept it to myself for so long.
So I hope if things are rough right now, that you can also find what can be salvaged, learn to be radically accepting and move forward.
What about you? Have you been conned? What did you do to get over it? I’d love to know.
I’m going to get active here now that things are falling into place. If you have any questions about what to do with a difficult person, let me know. I’d be happy to give you my take.
Now go make it a great day!
Monique works with organizations who want to reduce conflict to create a culture of collaboration, engagement and productivity. The most successful leaders are not infallible when faced with someone who “drives them crazy!” Her strategies to empower people to better understand each other and have better outcomes, while having fun, are appreciated by all who meet her. She draws from 30 years of crisis intervention and mental health work, she is a Level II Accredited Trainer for DISC as a Human Behavior Consultant and a Certified NLP Professional Coach. She loves meeting people and getting to know them and their industry. So feel free to reach out.