Oh yes, you read the question correctly. The question is not what happens IF I get a compliant, the questions is "what happen WHEN I get a compliant.?" Gasp, right?
Reading this now, I giggle. Reading this back when I started my business, I would have been horrified, terrified, confused. You mean, I’ll get a complaint?!? There’s no way, I give my business everything.
Friend, I feel you, completely.
Over the years, I defined, re-defined, organized, re-organized every system imaginable for my photography company, Ashley Strong Photography. Many are back in systems, but many, many are in direct relation to the connections I created with my clients. The more time went on, the more thorough my systems became, the more personal the experience was shared, the more I did. I did this, simply because it’s what resonated. Yet, even with doing so. The first complaint came.
I opened my email. “Did you do ANY editing to ANY of these photos?” That was it. Ouch. Really? What do you think I’ve been doing with these time capsules since they’ve been captured? My heart broken, tears in my eyes. But, how? I spent so much time finding the perfect location, helping her with her outfits, encouraging supportive poses, even staying 30 minutes longer than what I was paid to shoot. I was so proud of the gallery I had delivered. My client, I thought she looked radiant, youthful, happy. Due to me being so upset, I wanted to call right away. I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to explain myself. I knew, that was not the solution.
What did I do? I put on my running shoes (advantage of working from home), grabbed my headphones, put on my favorite playlist and ran. I ran and cried. Ran and cried. The tears came from feeling defeated, from feeling so confused, from feeling like this very soul had understood me and my craft.
After sometime I replied, replied again, and again. What I soon came to realize was that very question, that very question WAS NOT a reflection of my talent, my work, my dedication to the client experience. It was a reflection of the insecurities that resided within her soul. The time capsule I had documented enhanced her feelings. She had wanted one of those flawless instagram filter type images. The ones, I quite frankly don’t believe in as they’re not an accurate representation of you. They are a “perfected” reflection of you, but is that the real you?
What lessons did I learn from this?
My reply, their reply always differed depending on the situation at hand. The common thread? I was always able to answer, “Yes, I did the best I could in this situation.” Their reaction quite frankly has nothing to do with me as a person, it has everything to do with what resides within their internal reality.
Friend, please, please, I’ll say it one more time, please DO NOT let complaints discourage you. Use these situations as moments of growth. Although it may feel devastating in the moment ( I hear you there), it will soon be a feeling of the past. One in which, you and your business have grown from.
I’ll leave you with one last helpful exercise :
For example :
Don’t have one, please don’t freak out. That’s why i’m here. For the first almost two years of my photography business, Ashley Strong Photography, I operated without a business plan. Although I didn’t have a business plan, I definitely had a few tools and systems in place.
But, my friend. This was it. Although at the time, it sounded like a lot, it was nowhere near what I needed.
The questions kept coming and coming (and yes, coming). This, this was when I knew, I needed a document, a document that held it all together. The in’s and out’s of my business. Where to even begin? I stated first with a good ol’ internet search. Then, found a few rough outlines for business plans that resonates with where my business was at that time.
From there, I began filling in the blanks. Filling in the gaps.
Today, Ashley Strong Photography business plan is nearly 40 pages long. It contents are my heart and soul. The result of trial, error and a whole lot of intention.
Here is the exact outline I use:
My morning ritual, well, it consists of brewing a fresh cup of coffee, lighting an incense, plugging in our all year round twinkle lights and sitting in a very specific spot on our couch the enables two views.
Left, outside the window are green rolling hills, a glow of the rising sun, an occasional bird passing by the window, expansiveness.
To the right, time capsules on a wall from living on Mafia Island, Tanzania, our two cats snuggling and fresh pink lilies that my sweet hubs surprised me with.
This very morning, I got mesmerized to that of the left of me. Before my eyes could make it to the windows, I watched the smoke of the incense dance in the morning light. Although coming from one place, the smoke was divided, a cream color dancing with a grey color.
Balance. Without the creme, the grey would not exist.
My friend, you cannot have the light without the dark, they need each other.
Where in life have you had both the light and the dark?
: Losing a client, while gaining three.
: Getting a compliment, while receiving your best wedding review.
: Ending a friendship, while developing a more supportive one.
: Feeling tired, while then having energy.
: Being inspired, while then feeling utterly defeated.
Do you see where I am going with this?
These, these opposites, they need each other.
As we experience the dark, it brings about a reality. A set of emotions, a response, a lot of times, reflection. Being in the dark, enables us to feel, feel fully. As we experience the light, it brings about a whole different reality. This time, a lighter, more vibrant set of emotions, subsequent response and natural reflections. Being in the light, it reminds us of the good, the inspirational, the sensational.
How can you break this down to better understand?
Take a moment to reflect on your left, where has there been moments of darkness followed by lightness or the contrary, where has there been moments of lightness followed by darkness?!?
Then, take a few moments for reflection, followed by supportive actions.
Friend, within each of these moments, is a lesson, a very specific lesson. All contributing to the wholeness, that is life. Because after all, we cannot have one without the other. It is interconnected, we are interconnected.