I’ve decided to veer off the techie side for this week (until tomorrow’s Fetching Friday, of course). It’s been an emotional week, and one during which I have made some interesting self-discoveries.
The biggest one that I have been learning over the past few months is that nice doesn’t cut it when it comes to getting what you want, and in some cases, deserve. I’ve always been one to be as nice as much as possible when it comes to dealing with other people. I let things slide, I take their feelings into account before my own, I don’t get upset at the people I should get upset at, so on and so forth.
But there have been situations recently that have really required me going against my nature and stepping into the “dark side” as I would like to call it. When you can’t get things done being nice, it is time to start putting your foot down.
Executive Email Carpet Bomb
My first real experience of not playing nice was with a particular financial institution. I have gotten fees that I thought were unfair, and have called in, and let the customer service rep explain their “reasoning” and not pushed it any further, assuming that if they say no, there is nothing more I could do about it. Then one day, I got fees that there was no good explanation for. The customer service rep, as always, told me how “their” system works and why the fees were non-reversible.
So, because customer service was not understanding my point, I took it a step further and sent what is known as an executive email carpet bomb. In this letter, I explained why their system sucked, why I deserved to have the fees reversed, and exactly what I would do if I didn’t receive appropriate resolution, which not only included leaving their institution, but also making sure that they’re name was attached to some detailed articles all around the web about all the reasons of why I left. I also threw in my SEO skills, so that it would be clear that those articles would be found by their potential customers.
The result? I got a call the next business day from the assistant to one of the many upper level executives that received my email. She was actually really nice (nothing like the customer service reps had been) and talked to me for almost an hour, explaining how their system works and how the fees happened. But she also listened to my side and understood why I saw the fees as undeserved. My fees were credited the next day.
A pet peeve that has arose as a result of my freelance work is trading services vs. direct payment. If you go in, and get something done, and you pay for it, then it is done. Whereas, if you are trading services where I do this work for you, and you will do some service in exchange for it, you are stuck in a position where you feel like you owe something to them. I don’t like this feeling. There has to be balance.
When we’re having a meeting about the work I am doing for you, I don’t expect to take the hour we have set aside for that meeting to talk about the service you are doing for me. Just the same, when I come in for the service you are doing for me, I don’t want to talk about the work I’m doing for you. Depending on the service, it can put a real negative energy on the situation, making the service become less beneficial, and not really worth the exchange. There has to be a line, saying this is an appointment where we discuss my work for you, and that is an appointment where we discuss the service I am receiving from you. The two should not mix.
Also, if I am able to pay you for something, let me pay you. Don’t reject my money with the “understanding” that I now owe you something later, whatever that may be. Take the cash or do it for free. Your choice. I don’t want to feel obligated to doing some random thing for you down the road that will ultimately end up costing more in time and resources than what you did for me. You doing something for me that takes 10 minutes does not equate to me doing something for you that takes half an hour, two hours, etc. It seems relatively obvious that half an hour of my time is worth more than ten minutes of yours. It’s like you giving me a $10 gift card, with expectation that I will pay you $30 later. No matter how nice you are, you are still taking advantage of me, and I don’t appreciate it.
Putting My Feelings First
This part is a work in progress. A lot of the times, I will do things I don’t want to do, or not do things I want to do, all because I am considering someone else’s feelings before my own. After a nice, long writing session, I realized that approach was not working for me, as I have been missing out on things that I truly wanted to do. So now, I am working towards saying you know what, I want to do this. I’m not going to put it off or wait till later. Or, alternatively, I don’t want to do this, as in, it takes every bit of my emotional and mental stamina to survive this particular event. Why should I put myself through that kind of torture?
Considering the Best Approach
While the above situations have required or will require me to take the not nice as I generally am route, every situation really requires a lot of contemplation of what approach to use in order to get the best results.
- Will putting your foot down help the other party see your point of view?
- Will explaining your side of things make you feel better about the situation?
- Is it possible that positive change could happen?
- Is the person you are about to make your stand against responsible for the problem?
- Will taking a stand worsen the situation?
- Is there any form of retribution the other party may be able to take against you if things should go badly?
There are lots of considerations to make before choosing to make a stand, or standing down. Just be sure that you are doing what is in your best interest, as you are the one who has to live with the circumstances.