I'm pretty sure that most adults can recount at least one childhood memory of being bullied by another child. In today's culture there is a huge movement to work against childhood bullying, but what happens when the bully is an adult? Yesterday I read a story posted on Facebook that was by a woman who was a witness to an adult bully. This post has gone viral, and has even gotten the attention of the mainstream media.
Vanessa Hunt was visiting M Spa in Portage, Michigan over the weekend, and watched a mother of a 2 1/2 year old boy try to hold her son in her lap for a haircut that he was not thrilled to be getting. As a mother, Vanessa sympathized with the woman holding her crying son, because she remembers having the same experience with her own son. Unfortunately, what should have been a brief haircut quickly turned into a public confrontation that literally makes my stomach turn! The owner of M Spa, Michelle Mott, decided to publicly berate and humiliate the mother for her sons crying, causing the mother to tearfully apologize over and over for her son's behavior, and trying to unsuccessfully explain that her son has autism.
Having several children with special needs in my family, and in the families of close friends, this story hits close to home. I am an advocate for children with special needs, but I am also an advocate for teaching children manners and how to behave appropriately in public. However, this is harder to teach to children with special needs, and even harder with toddlers. It is up to adults to learn how to appropriately handle toddlers and children with special needs. And if you own/manage a business that does business with children, special needs or not, you must find a way to work with them that is best for the child, their parents, other customers, and staff members. Michelle Mott chose to ignore this basic rule of business etiquette, forcing the mother to have her son's haircut finished out on the front lawn, and making other customers extremely uncomfortable with her rant.
Currently, Michelle Mott is neither taking accountability for her unethical behavior nor offering a public apology. Instead she has sent her attorney to make a public statement claiming Ms. Mott's actions were appropriate because this was a "safety issue". Regardless of the reasons for her actions, the way she handled the situation was anything but "appropriate" and has led to a public boycott of M Spa that currently has just under 10,000 supporters on Facebook. There you will read many stories from past M Spa customers that have had similar experiences, and this past weekend isn't the first time she has brought a customer to tears!
Furthermore, a recent "roundtable" discussion of this story on HLN has brought up another related issue.
One of the hosts states this is a "private matter" and whatever happened to "mind your own business". This could very easily have been, and should have been, handled privately, but it became a matter of public opinion when Michelle Mott conducted her rant in front of other patrons and staff. Furthermore, it is the mindset of "mind your own business" that encourages inappropriate behavior and bullying. Well done HLN host! Not only have you have showed the world that you are an uninformed participate of the discussion, but your "mind your own business" statement has shown you to be an advocate for bullying!
The concept of "children should be seen and not heard" is not only archaic, but unreasonable. As a society we should be supportive of parents with small children. Children should be raised to be respectful, and well-mannered, but sometimes they may need a bit more consideration, especially with special needs. Adults should lead by example by being respectful, and well mannered, especially when working in a field that involves customer service. Practicing good business etiquette will also help your business flourish and grow. A good quote to remember is: "You get more flies with honey than vinegar".
What are your thoughts on this situation?