Voices In Your Head?

Posted: June 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

I had a client that would talk to the voices in his head. I didn’t know this was happening when he was taken on as a client, because if I had, I would have stopped it. 


But, he was accepted as a client and was given to me by my Sales Manager Charlie. I knew something was wrong when Charlie walked into my office with his head down, a folder pressed hard against his chest and bumped into a chair because he wasn’t watching what he was doing. I knew that whatever it was he had to say it would not be good.


He cursed the chair and rubbed his knee cap. I leaned back in my recliner, put my hands behind my head and took a deep breath. Charlie has been our Sales Manager for over 10 years and was damn good at it. He knew the type of clients that we wanted to work with and was very good at weeding out the ones we don’t, but something told me that he had made an exception.


I didn’t say anything as he looked around my office and sat down. There’s really not much to look at as my office is small.  It has a desk, 2 chairs and a credenza. It’s efficient and practical and I don’t spend much time in it. I use it to answer phone calls, return emails and play solitaire. Today was quiet and I was winning the card game, so I paused it.  I love it when the cards start jumping all over the monitor when I win. I don’t like to miss that part.


He cleared his throat but still hung onto the folder tightly. “Umm, Susan, there’s something here I want to go over with you, if you have a few minutes.”


”Sure Charlie, go ahead and tell me what’s on your mind,” I said as I leaned forward. I put my hand out for the folder but he didn’t budge.


“I signed someone up but I don’t think you’re going to be too happy. You know the sales have been sluggish the last few weeks, what with the holidays and all, and I’ve been strapped a bit financially with Laura needing braces, so I signed up someone that might just be more difficult for you.” He finally handed me the folder. I raised one eyebrow and peered at him over my glasses. This is a look I strongly recommend all managers learn and use.


I opened the folder and started reading. Charlie sat very quietly and I could see his knee bouncing up and down while he tapped his right knee with his hand.


After reading the folder, I put it aside and looked up at him.


“He hears voices? Am I reading that right?”


Charlie sighed and nodded his head.


“And you signed him up because you need to pay for your kids braces?”


Again he nodded while studying the floor intently.


“And you want me to work with him?”


“Yes. He asked specifically for you after talking to some of our clients.”


I sighed. I swear some of my clients have a wicked sense of humor.


The client, Jack, arrived the following week. I was not sure how to prepare for a client who has voices in his head so I was in virgin territory. We sat down and began talking. I was asking the usual questions to get enough information so we could figure out an effective program for him.


During the conversation he suddenly turned his head to the right and said “What?” and then appeared to listen for a moment. I watched this in fascination. When he was done listening, he looked up at me and apologized for the interruption.


“Who was that?” I asked. I figured there was no need to be rude if someone else had just joined in our conversation.


He blushed for a moment. “That was Richard.”


“Oh, OK and what does Richard have to say?”


“It doesn’t matter. I know he’s not real.”


I grinned. “If you know he’s not real, then why do you talk to him? He must be real. At least to you if no one else.”


“He’s always putting me down. If I listen to him then he stops talking faster, so that’s what I do.”


I thought about this for a moment. “Jack, let’s try this; the next time Richard starts talking, I want you to turn around to him and tell him to shut-up. Can you do that?”


Jack thought about this for a moment and agreed. We continued our conversation and then about 10 minutes later, Jack suddenly turns his head around and yells “SHUT UP RICHARD” and then continued with our conversation. This seemed to work and I spent the next year working with a lovely man who would occasionally scream mid-sentence.


I got to where it didn’t bother me much and as time went by, Richard eventually left Jack alone and never bothered him again. Jack had grown a back bone and used it.


Only pay attention to your own voice and no one else’s. No matter where those voices might come from. Your voice is the only one that matters.

  1. cdyard says:

    Wow! Just one question (you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to): Did it happen? Really?

  2. susanllewis says:


    Yes, it really happened. I took a bit of creative licensing in telling the story (shortened it up a bit) but I do have a client like this.

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting! You made my day!


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