DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a party planner in Manhattan, New York, and I have just encountered one of my worst clients ever. This particular client came to my office to discuss her arrangements, but she got nasty with me and started an argument because she was upset that the red napkins she wanted are out of out of stock and won't be available in time for her event. I yelled back and kicked her out of the office -- respectfully. My assistant came up to me the other day to tell me that she doesn't like how I treated my client. I told her to mind her business and get back to work. I don't tolerate disrespect, and I don't want to make this situation any bigger than it already is. What should I do? -- Office out of Control, Manhattan, New York
DEAR OFFICE OUT OF CONTROL: Start with yourself. You work in a volatile industry where tempers often run high, yet as the party planner, you are required to keep a cool head. The notion of the customer always being right is alive and well. And you need to adhere to it. Rather than flying off the handle and yelling back at your customer, you should have gotten creative and figured out a viable solution that would please her. Yelling at her and later at your employee reflects poorly on you. Honestly, it also presents you as the one being disrespectful.
In the future, you need to stay calm and become a master problem solver. Your work requires you to handle endless challenges. In order to be successful, you must figure out how to stay positive throughout everything. Your job now is to repair the relationships at work and to build a positive reputation in the marketplace.