We hear a lot of legitimately ‘out of this world’ adventures from our CC members… in our private Conjuror.Community Facebook group, but what this client expected David to do was a new one for all of us.
Check it out, in David’s words:
“Years ago I was working for a client in New York City for an event being held at a famous museum. It was a very high end affair. The meeting planner was there to greet me and as we were looking over the rooms before the event, the head of the Museum Events staff came over and in a very condescending tone (I could tell she didn’t like the idea of a guy doing lowly magic in her Art Museum) she told me that there was to be “No open flames” (even though the caterer had cocktail candles at all of the tables- which I pointed out). Then she explained to me that I would be responsible for any damage to any of the priceless art if anything happened as a result of one of my magic tricks.
I was shocked and asked her to elaborate… “For example” she said “If anyone throws or spills a drink on a painting in surprise at one of your tricks…” So I said “So let me get this straight, if I do a card trick and someone is so surprised by it that they throw their drink on a priceless work of art, then I’m responsible for the damage?” “That’s right.” She said.
I calmly picked up my case and said to the Coordinator and to the Event Producer and the client “Have a nice party.” And I walked out the front door to hail a cab. I could see that there was a flurry of heated conversations in the entryway of the museum when the client came rushing out just before I stepped into my cab and asked where I was going? I told her that I couldn’t be expected to perform under such conditions and that I was going home, back to Washington D.C. She then begged me to reconsider, but I told her that the only way I would come back into the event was after I received an apology from the Museum rep and a written confirmation that I could not be held responsible for damage to any art. I basically made her eat her words. I got my apology and had a great time at the party.
I was happy that the client had my back, and it gave me a bit of confidence and from that moment on I wasn’t afraid to push back when I thought I was being disrespected at a gig.”
Phew! What a story, right?
David Williamson executed every action any performer would need to do in order to successfully handle a challenging situation like this one. He:
Maintained Calm – the MOST important element.
If you’re not calm, you can’t think straight, and you risk becoming just as unreasonable as the client.
Asked for clarification
During times of high stress, like at big events, simple miscommunications are often at an all time high. Asking for clarification ensures a clear understanding of the problem.
Gave a Repetition
Repeating the problem back to the client (or any person) ensures they feel heard and understood.
Initiated his Response
Based on a clear understanding of the problem, David took appropriate action to resolve the conflict (knowing what performance conditions you CAN work under is essential to this step).
Created a Resolution
He clearly explained what he would need in order to deliver the promised product. Once that was received, he moved on with the evening, turning what could have been an awful experience into a success.
It was what we like to call, customer service M-A-G-I-C… 😉
Have you ever been in a situation similar to this one? Have you ever needed to leave a gig because the performance conditions were unworkable?
Lots of times magicians think no one else has experienced events like this, so please share with us in the comments below if you have – you are definitely not alone!