01 Dec Lenny the Liar
It would be nice if those Progressive Insurance commercials where you could ask for an official review/replay in life actually existed! Unfortunately, in the business world, you may occasionally encounter someone who behaves like Jon Lovitz as the Pathological Liar. Hence we add to the Hall of Infamy Lenny the Liar, who can also be a gaslighter, too.
✔️ Beware of the phrase, “I AM THE CLIENT!” It’s akin to “the customer is always right” even though every business owner knows that is not true.
✔️ If you left Corporate America to avoid liars, backstabbers, micromanagers, etc., if you do not carefully guard your own practice, you can duplicate the same nightmare you sought to escape.
✔️ Lenny types can also try to use you as a scapegoat. They know their project is probably doomed to fail and they want to point a finger of blame at someone other than themselves.
✔️ Do you have a rainy day fund set aside? If you have some money put back in savings, it can make things easier if you need to fire fast.
Link I mention in this episode:
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here’s your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. I’ve talked before about clients to avoid people like Ned the needy, Mike the micromanager, blaine the blame gamer, Tammy the tattletale, et cetera. Unfortunately, I have to add a new character to our Hall of infamy. Lenny, the liar. Now, in addition to behaving like Jon Lovitz on SNL, when he would do the pathological liar sketch and just flat out lying to you, and being completely deceptive. Lynnae can also be a gas lighter, too, and try to convince you that what he said or did earlier in the project, just simply never happened. You imagined it, you misunderstood. And it’s like, wait a minute, what? You know, those Progressive Insurance commercials they’ve been showing during the football games, where it’s like, you get to do an official review in real life, they throw down the flag, and they’re like, well, let’s just see. Yeah, there’s the one where the couple is having an argument over who was going to bring the life jackets. There’s another one where I think it’s like a mother and a daughter arguing about who was actually supposed to bring the sweet potatoes to the Thanksgiving. And it’s like, don’t you wish you could do that in real life? Yeah, absolutely. And with someone like Lenny, the liar, you’re definitely going to wish that you could throw down the flag and have an official review? Because it’s like, no, wait a minute, Lenny, I remember quite clearly what you said, I haven’t written down in the notes. I know what we talked about. So please stop trying to gaslight me. You know, as I always say, on this broadcast, I cannot tell you what to do. I can’t give you advice. All I can do is sit here and opine for your entertainment only. In my opinion, when you freelance or you own and operate your own business, however, it is that you have things structured, you really have to guard your time, your energy, and your sanity. And some of these clients with their bad behavior and the things that other people quite frankly, allow them to get away with day after day, month after month, they start to think every freelancer or every contractor, every consultant, every business owner, should just automatically put up with their BS. And it’s almost like they don’t even know how to handle you. They don’t even know how to accept reality. If you push back a lot of the information out there that’s written specifically about clients who lie. It’s done. So from a therapeutic context, ie if you’re a psychologist or a therapist, and you have a client, who is sitting there in therapy lying to you, how do you handle it? Or it’s a legal setting, if you are a client’s attorney, and you can tell that the client is not being honest with you? What are some steps that you can take? I’m not finding quite as much written about or talked about in just sort of everyday business relationships. In other words, what if you’re an accountant? What if you’re in HR, what if you’re a computer programmer, and you have taken on a client and realized too late to do very much about it? Oh, crap. Unfortunately, I have allowed a Lynnie the liar to get into my practice. What now? Even though this article is written from a legal point of view, it’s still relevant, I think, across the board in the business world. The article is titled How to deal with a line client, and you can find it on above the law.com. Of course, I’ll drop a link so you can read it in its entirety, if you want to. The byline reads four of the most dreaded words in English. I am the client. Oh, Haven’t we all encountered that attitude before? I’ll read a little bit of it for you now. A very long time ago, I had an issue with a client. He claimed to have brought some paperwork to my office the day before, but my spidey sense suspected that he wasn’t being truthful. That was confirmed when my office mates told me that no one came to drop off paperwork that day. As I am 95% certain he lied. I suddenly tried to call him out on it on a later phone call. Unfortunately, this resulted in a heated argument. He continued to claim that he did what he said he did. But a short time later, he deflected by saying I am Client. At that point, I tried to end the argument as soon as possible because I realized that he had a point. Even if I won the argument and got him to admit his lie, it could do more damage in the long run. As lawyers, we occasionally run into people who have trouble being truthful. Sometimes you find a way to deal with their alternative facts. For others, their constant web of deceit makes it impossible for you to do your job and quote, and there’s the rub. You will have some people that you encounter in the business world that regardless of how they’re behaving, whether they’re a blame them blame gamer and Ned, the nene and Nancy the nitpicker, or Eleni the liar, they feel like it is their right to behave that way with you. Because you are the whatever, the consultant, The hired hand, the person on the outside the contract, or whoever, or you’re the business owner, and you’re supposed to take the attitude that the customer is always right, damn it, even if the customer is lying to you. Even if a customer is trying to run a con on you, you’re supposed to sit there and take it. If they want you to eat a steaming pile of BS, then you’re supposed to get out your spoon, and eat it with gusto, eat it with relish, just sit there and do what you’re told. Honestly, we find that attitude all over corporate America, it’s not difficult to suss out the way that bosses treat full time w two employees when they have that attitude, are to or it’s your job, sit down, shut up, do what you’re told. Yet again, Lord Elon is such a great bad example of this. I just want the loyalists. I want people who are loyal to me and loyal to the company. And if I say jump, they say how high. If I say RTO and be here, at minimum 40 hours a week, really, you ought to be here 60 hours a week, if you give a crap, then they’ll do it. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, you can allow those same types of people to ferret their way into your freelancing practice or into your business. So even though theoretically, you should be calling your own shots, setting your own hours making your own decisions, every so often, you may encounter an individual who can hide their crazy very well, during the intake process. I honestly think some of them do it on purpose. Some of them don’t. Some people nowadays are just not very self aware. They’re not introspective. They don’t do any kind of therapy or personal development. So they really don’t have a good grasp of their own strengths and weaknesses. Others I think are very manipulative, and they actually just do it on purpose. I’ll play along I’ll do the song and the dance. I’ll say whatever this person wants in order to retain them for this project or retain them for this job. But then, once I feel like they’re in, and they can’t just readily hit the escape door, haha. That’s when I’ll show my true colors. In the case of somebody like Lynnie, the liar. One of the things that’s so frustrating about dealing with Lenny, especially Eleni, that decides to try to gaslight you is that there’s really no way that I know of, again, I can’t tell you what to do. But there’s no way that I know of that you can really salvage that kind of relationship. Do you want to deal with someone who lies to you and or gaslights you and tries to tell you that up is down. Left is right. They didn’t say what they clearly did say. So how are some ways that this could play out? Well, obviously, in the legal field, we have so many great examples because it could be a client that lies to you. I wasn’t there. At that time, I brought that paperwork, I signed that document. Meanwhile, you have all of the evidence in front of you that they are lying in the HR world or in a staffing project, it could be well now I only want you to find individuals who are willing to RTO I’m done with remote work. I’m over it. I want to pretend that I’m Lauren, Ilan, and I only want to bring in Loyless do not send me anybody who’s not willing to be here but and see in the cube farm Monday through Friday, just just don’t don’t even with the remote people, please. Okay. So you go out and you look for this one and a million person who actually wants to do that. You don’t find anybody. And so then Lynnie comes back at you and says, Well, how come you couldn’t find anybody? I mean, we’re willing to consider remote people. And it’s like, wait a minute, what? What, what, what? What, what? Like the archetypal scene in the movie Were the record skips in the club and everybody stops dancing and looks around. It’s like, actually, no, Leonard, what you told me very plainly at the beginning of this project was, quote, I am over remote work. Don’t send us anybody that’s remote only we want people who are willing to be here in the cubicle Monday through Friday. Another sort of dastardly thing about the linee the liar types, aside from the fact that they live, aside from the fact they do gaslighting is that they will also try to use you as a scapegoat. Truth be told, deep down, they may know that they have set goals for the project that are completely absurd. Whether it’s wanting people to RTO at a point in time when no one wants to do that. Whether they have grossly underestimated the budget, they have unrealistic expectations, whatever it is sort of tailor this to your industry. They want you to write code that’s impossible. They want you to create something on a budget that’s totally unrealistic. Insert your own scenario there. They want to have a scapegoat. They want to be able to point the finger of blame at someone else. So in that regard, Eleni the liar is pretty similar to someone like Blaine, the blame gamer, or Tammy, the tattletale. I want to get you on the phone. Or worse yet, you on some god awful Zoom meeting, you’re gonna have to comb your hair and put makeup on and sit there and take your butt chewing from somebody about why were you not able to deliver signs, wonders and miracles. If something, let’s say should cost $2,000 And you weren’t able to find it and procure it for $500? Well, what the hell’s wrong with you? Well, maybe you gave me Mission Impossible. Hello. There’s an old cliche hire slow, but fire fast. We can debate all day long. Whether or not that’s a valid saying. I think a lot of it depends on the industry and the situation. In some positions with a high turnover rate. If you’re trying to hire people slowly, you’re never going to hire anyone. Especially if you were doing that during the Great resignation, you probably had a position that just sat open for months on end if you were trying to dilly dally and dawdle around. But when it comes to being a business owner, or running your own freelancing desk, I personally think there’s a real value in being able to fire fast and being able to rip a band aid off quickly. Now, can you always do that in every circumstance? No. Realistically, you can’t. Yet another reason why I always say I can’t tell you what to do. Your own circumstances are individual to you. I don’t know all of the details. There’s no way that I can sit here and make a prescription for everyone speaking solely for myself. It’s important during the intake process, if at all possible. Can you suss out, oh, this is another add on Mike the micromanager, a blame the blame gamer, et cetera, is this going to be someone from the hall of infamy. Sometimes you can tell in advance, and you can just dodge the bullet. Sometimes you can’t. Sometimes people put on a very good facade during the intake process, and then turn into Hell on Wheels, after you’ve signed a scope of work and started the project. On that note, I feel it is so important to have a signed scope of work. It needs to be clear. And it needs to be highly understandable to everyone involved. I know sometimes people want to get into these very dense six point font scopes of work where it just goes on and on and on. And no one in their right mind is going to read it. Consult your attorney of course. But the more readable and understandable that you can make it the better, in my opinion, make it super clear what you’re going to do and not do what the client should and should not expect. At least that way you have some hedge of protection. You can always go back on somebody like Lenny the liar or blame the blame gamer and say, hey, look, you signed this scope of work. It should have been clear what I can do and what I can’t do. Now, I’m not going to suggest that you need to be very smartass about it and say it nowhere in the scope of work does it say that I’m going to perform signs, wonders and miracles for you. It doesn’t say I’m going to turn water into wine like Jesus at the wedding of Cana. I’m not saying that you need to do that. but at least you always have that scope of work to come back to. And with people like Teddy, the tailgate negotiator, sometimes what they want to do is come back even after they have read and signed the scope of work, they want to try to come back to you, and ask for things that are not in the scope of work. They want you to work extra hours, they want you to take on extra projects, they want you to go above and beyond. And they think that you’re going to go along with that just because they have the attitude, like the blog post says, I am the client. I don’t care what I signed, I don’t care what you said you were going to do. If I come back to you two weeks into this project, and I want to up all the due dates, or I want to decrease the budget, or I want you to go way above what you agreed to do, then Damn it, you should just do it because I am the client. The customer is always right, Hmm. Well, it’s not 1956 I mean, more, have you looked around lately. So look, I feel that there is a real value in being able to rip the band aid off and fire fast. Now, as I said before, that’s not always going to be an option. And it may depend on whether or not you’re having to do something because it’s what the crisis demands. Maybe you’ve been hit by a sudden bill, you’re concerned about money. And you may have to just kind of grit your teeth and try to get through a project with someone whose personality you frankly don’t like. One suggestion I would make, again, cannot tell you what to do, just let’s say that you and I are hanging out at the pub, having a pint talking about life might not be a bad idea, if at all possible to have a nest egg, have a rainy day fund. I know that sometimes when we freelance and we’re not necessarily getting money in steady increments like you do when you’re at a W two job, you’re getting paid once a week, or a couple of times a month, you can know when the paycheck is going to hit the bank. Sometimes when you freelance you don’t have as much certainty about when and where your next check is coming from or when it’s going to hit the bank. I get it, believe me. But once you get out of that kind of small, scrappy space, live beneath your means just for enough period of time to get that rainy day fund put together. In my opinion. I’m not a financial planner or advisor. I’m not an economist or credit counselor. I’ve always said if you feel that you need to talk to somebody in that profession, do it, get some good professional advice, rough out a budget, get a plan put together. But it will help you sleep a bit better at night. And if you find yourself saddled up with a Ned the needy and like the micromanager or Lenny the liar, and you realize I would rather jump off the roof, Van continue to deal with someone like this. Or if you get into a project and you realize the person running it is abusive. I mean, unfortunately, people like that are out there. And I don’t know I’m not a psychologist, I don’t know what the pathology is behind it. I think some some people just have such a miserable life. They are going out looking for other people to take their misery out on I’m miserable. I’m in pain, I’m mad at the world. So I want to treat everybody else like that too. I’m in pain and I’m unhappy. So dammit, I want you to be in pain and unhappy too. If you think that those people are not lurking around in the business world, Oh, get freaking real. You don’t just only encounter those people in your personal life. Those people completely are in the business world too. And if you have the misfortune of taking one of them on as a client or working for one of them in a W2 capacity, it is not fun. So my point is if you have the nest egg, you have a rainy day fund put back then it’s not so scary. If you realize I’m gonna have to fire this client. I don’t want to deal with them anymore. This is not what I signed up for. They’re not abiding by the scope of work or another one that I think you have to be really careful of. And so this is sort of a Ned the Needy, Mike the micromanager, Nancy the nitpicker type, but the kind that wants to just turn everything into a touch base or turn everything into a check in and it’s like, Ah, this could have been an email like you’re taking my time off of the project you’ve asked me to work on for you to have to get on Zoom and Jews you up. No offense, but I think that’s what a lot of it amounts to. They want that ego adulation and they want the control. They want to be able to command you to be on camera. At a particular space and time, and then if you’re not they get mad. I’ve spoken many times before about how when you freelance or your own and operate your own business, if you’re not careful, the same types of insanity, weirdos, Kripa, Zoids, et cetera, that you sought to escape from in corporate America, if you’re not careful, if you don’t jealously guard your time, your energy, your sanity, etc, you can, unfortunately replicate the exact insanity that you have tried to get away from. And in my opinion, part of how you preserve that situation for yourself, is being willing to fire a nightmare client. The longer that you’re in business, the more you’re going to have to do it. Not every dynamic is going to be a match made in heaven. If you’re listening to some coach or consultant that’s getting on a podcast or blog post and telling you Well, every client you work with should be a dream come true. If you ever have to fire a client, it means there’s something wrong with you, you haven’t done a good enough job, you haven’t vetted them well enough, or you’re too disagreeable ball ball ball, right? Sure, of course, either you haven’t been in business for very long. Or you’re just simply not doing a high volume of business. If you’ve never had to fire anybody. You’re also living some kind of dream life, if you’ve never dealt with someone who’s a liar, a weirdo, a creep, etc. In the same way that they exist out on the street in public, they exist in the business world to, to summon up to bring it home. I wish that we didn’t have to deal with Lenny, the liars. I wish there weren’t people out there willing to gaslight. In my opinion, it’s a good idea to take good notes. Make sure that you understand what you’re being told at the kickoff of the project, the more that you can document the more evidence that you can have in front of you, the better. Don’t do anything, in my opinion, without a signed scope of work. Make sure that everyone as best as possible is on the same page about who’s doing what, what is the deadline, what is the budget, etc. Try to make it as clear as possible. And it’s not just for the clients benefit. It’s for your benefit, too. In the event that you have to pull that document out as a sort of ammunition and say, Hey, wait a minute, you sign this, remember, here’s your signature on it. Here’s the date, at least you have that. And in my opinion, it’s better than having nothing at all. We’re trying to go back to some phone call that happened six months ago. And he said she said and they did this and he did that. It’s so much better to have a piece of paper so that you’re not relying on conversations, especially in situations where there wasn’t a witness. A lot of these companies, they’re going to protect their own, they’re going to protect themselves, they’re not worried about you. The onus really is on you as a freelancer or you as a business owner to look out for your own self interests. A good rational, healthy selfishness is a great thing in my opinion. In the meantime, stay safe, stay sane. I hope no gas lighters and liars cross your path, but if they do, please know you’re not alone. And I will see you in the next episode. Thanks for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. We’ll see you next time.