Staying silent is like a slow-growing cancer to the soul and a trait of a true coward. There is nothing intelligent about not standing up for yourself. – Shannon L. Alder
Last week, my girlfriend and I celebrated her birthday. We went to a techno party in Cologne. It was a great party, but there was one nasty thing that happened.
The line to enter the location was at least 100 meters. Hundreds of people needed to wait in front of the entrance as the security had only limited capacity. As there were 2 lines – 1 for women, 1 for men – and the line for men was much faster, my girlfriend and I were separated.
I got into the location after 10 minutes and waited for my girlfriend to pass the security. While waiting, I stood at the entrance so that I could see my girlfriend entering the location.
5 minutes passed, and, suddenly the bouncers panicked. Some dudes tried to enter the location via the women’s line as there was a gap in the barrier, allowing them to enter the location without the security check.
1 bouncer started to shout. All people inside the location should go away from the entrance. I moved away, but not fast enough as the bouncer pushed me away.
Through the push of the bouncer, my phone fell from my hand to the ground, destroying its display and touchscreen.
Before talking to the panicking bouncer, who was still trying to bring the other people away from the entrance, I looked around me tried to find some people who witnessed the situation. Luckily, 2 people did. I asked them directly whether they could witness the situation and whether they could give me their phone numbers in case I needed to sue the security company.
As I received their numbers and the situation calmed down, I approached the bouncer who was suddenly super angry. He was like “either you piss off or you will get thrown out”.
I knew that I needed to protocol the situation, and I wanted to solve this issue without having to deal with a lawsuit. So, I went to a stand where some people from the organization team worked. I told them I want to speak to their manager. A few minutes later the manager arrived. He was not willing to solve the situation and referred me back to the security company. I should speak to the manager of the bouncers, who was currently too busy to speak. I should get back to him later.
3 hours later – in the meantime I had great fun dancing with my girlfriend – I got back to him and was introduced to the “deputy” of the security personnel. We got into a conversation.
He refused to accept the fact that I was right. I told him that I can sue them as they damaged my property. But he argued that it was my own fault and that I should sue them if I want to.
In the meanwhile, the bouncer who pushed me in the first place joined the conversation and got angry. He shouted it was my own fault. Suddenly, he grabbed my arm and told me if I don’t shut up, I will be gone.
As I kept calm his colleagues stopped him and asked him to listen.
I told them that I don’t want to make any trouble, but my property is damaged. And to file a lawsuit (which will then decide who is right) I needed to have the name of him the responsible person or the bouncer who pushed me.
As they refused to provide me with the responsible manager’s name or the name of the bouncer, I threatened to call the police to obtain the information. Eventually, they gave me the number of the manager.
The next day (Sunday) I called him and described the situation. I clearly made the case that I have multiple (neutral) witnesses. He should have a (commercial) liability insurance that should be able to pay for the damage done to me.
He was open, listened to me, and told me that he will talk to his team the next day (on Monday) about their view on the situation.
Eventually, he told me I was right and that he will wire me the money for the repair of my phone.
The lesson I learned – or let’s say that was reinforced – is that assertiveness makes life better. If we refuse to accept a no, if we refuse to let other people win who seem to have more power, and stand up for what we think is right, we are eventually better off.
If I had let myself be intimidated by the bouncers, I would have lost hundreds of Euros. But as I kept calm and assertive, I made a clear case and didn’t even have to file a lawsuit.
What is your experience with being assertive? And have you ever had trouble with a bouncer? Curious to hear your story!
All the best to you and yours,