Instead of writing about April Fool pranks, this blog post is about how to act and re-act to difficult situations. There are two kinds of pranks: malicious and amusing.
The amusing prank is a simple gesture, such as a touch on the right shoulder from behind, so that when that person turns to their right, the prankster is on their left side. This is harmless and is not meant in a mean–spirited way. It’s just a subtle way of having fun. These can easily be overlooked and may sometimes have a bonding effect with the group or team.
Malicious pranks, the kind that hurt someone mentally, physically, or emotionally are a different matter altogether. We should all avoid doing those actions that may make someone uncomfortable, but what do you do when this type of prank happens to you?
As a business owner, I meet with people from many different cultures and backgrounds. What some people think is offensive, others think it’s ok to do or say. So how do you deal with all of this?
Here is the rule of thumb I use to determine how I will react to someone or something.
1) Look at the person who pranked you. Are they joking or do they have a look of revenge or anger?
2) If they’re relaxed and laughing, this usually means they mean it as a harmless prank. If they look like they’re enjoying your discomfort, this usually means this is a mean-spirited prank, so beware!
3) If you really find the prank unacceptable, quietly let them know. Take them aside and tell them that in this country or at this event, it is not polite to say or do that to someone. They may not know that it is unacceptable to do or say and you will avoid making a scene and will definitely let them know how you feel.
4) If it looks like it’s payback for something, smile and remain quiet. They should get your message that you don’t like what happened, you’re not participating in their scheme, and you won’t tolerate it, if it happens again.
I meet most of my clients at gatherings and events. Some people have the gift of gab and always know exactly what to say and do for every occasion. Others seem to stumble over their words or try to tell a funny story that isn’t really funny.
Again, evaluate the person and the setting. If alcohol is involved, it could be the drink that’s talking or their inner demons. You always want to put your best foot forward, so deal with everything that comes your way with class and self-control. No matter what happens, remain calm and then quietly deal with it.
A good example of this is the time I went to an after-hours get together and a businessman spilled his full glass of wine all over my suit. Someone bumped into him and the wine flew out of his glass on to me. I was furious, but I kept calm and went to the ladies’ room.
When I came out, he was waiting for me and offered to pay the cleaning bill. He gave me his business card and told me he would be in touch. Of course I didn’t believe him.
I took my suit to the cleaner the next morning, but it was too stained to be cleaned. Two days later, I got a call from this attorney asking about my suit. When I told him about it, he said he would make it up to me and a few days later, he sent me a gift card to Nordstrom’s in the mail.
If I started screaming at him, he could have easily blamed the other person and it would have ended badly. I kept calm and tried to remain professional and was able to replace my suit with a new one at no cost to me.
Best advice: Pranks are —just pranks, but if it turns ugly, don’t lose your cool. Remain calm and deal with it in a calm manner. If you do that, the joke is on them!
How do you handle pranks?