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How to Handle Inconsiderate Jerk Offs

In: Communication Skills

At some point, you're going to get into a dispute with someone.

Maybe it'll be a client. Maybe it'll be a friend. Maybe it'll be your 6th grade math teacher, who, first of all, is actually still alive, and second, who you've come to mercilessly hunt down to let her know just how much she SCARRED THE INSIDE OF YOUR BRAIN by humiliating you at the board the week you learned to reduce fractions.

THINK I WENT AWAY, SNAGGLE-NUMBERS? Guess again.

(Realization 101: This is why I became a writer.)

Back to this dispute. We're going to assume, of course, that it's their fault, because they're naturally inconsiderate, thoughtless, overbearing, monstrous, insolent, incompetent, half-witted or, as my new favorite word calls it, entirely tomfool.

And usually when someone's being tomfool with you, you're the one who's put in the annoying position of actually having to fix things. Say that client just moved the timeline 2 weeks earlier, because they—said in my best stuffy British 70 year old woman voice—absolutely had no choice in the matter. (And now you have to scramble to try and fabricate time out of thin air.) Or say you had lent a friend money and–alas!–they don't have the money to pay you back. Ever.

My favorite way to “fix” the situation?

Put the ball back in their court and make them fix it.

Here's how:

» First, state that you understand. (Because you always want to start these conversations without putting anyone on the defense.)

» Then, say you'd also like them to understand the position you're in, and briefly but matter-of-factly let them know how their action affects things on your end. (Without childish bratty undertones, mind you.)

» And then you simply follow that up with the ever eloquent: How do you propose we solve this? Or, what do you think is fair?

It's mature. It's respectful. And it puts the problem right back where it belongs.

Dear Mrs. Haggerty,

I understand you were doing your best to teach us.

I'd also like you to understand the position I'm in.

To this day, I still count on my fingers, feel like everyone's judging me, probably miscalculated tip 230,000 times, and was bamboozled right out of the career path of wildly acclaimed astronaut.

How do you propose we solve this?

Love,

The girl who attended her grandfather's funeral the day you went over fucking fractions

See what I mean?

Works like a charm.

Unless, of course, you're actually Mrs. Haggerty, in which case, I'll see you in court for all my lost astronaut wages.

Reduce that, sweetheart.

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