20 Comments

  1. Shannon

    I would probably confuse your politeness for having the patience of a saint… I’m not sure I could handle someone saying a product was defective when they obviously messed up…

    To be fair, I haven’t had to actually deal with contractors in my house yet. So maybe I’ll end up being too polite. Who knows?

    • That’s really gracious of you to say, Shannon. I didn’t know how to stop them in the moment (tackle them? yell?), but I did work it out. Actually, the store kind of did it for me. What they failed to ask was whether or not we special ordered the fan. So they couldn’t return it. Now, the contractor is working it out. It sounds like the contractor wanted the money for the fan to come out of their pay, so they were trying to save themselves some money. Such a mess! And the craziest part is the fan was only like $60!

  2. The celebration planning with the co-workers is really a tough one. I can’t even think of a good response to the statement/demand that you pick up everything. Maybe, “I don’t have enough cash. You’ll need to get that.” ? Then if she ‘suggested’ putting it on a credit card “We don’t use credit cards.”?

    The situation with the fan, and lying to the store to replace it would bug me too. I’d think the general contractor would rather eat the cost for a new one, than risk his relationship with the store. Keep us posted on the continuing saga!

  3. I have the exact opposite problem. I feel comfortable with confrontation and id rather bring something up than let it slide by. This leads to people thinking I’m aggressive or bitchy though, so it’s not always a grass is greener thing.
    I think that construction situation sounds ridiculous! They are really being unprofessional about it.

    • I definitely need to take a page from your book, Kara. I suppose the ideal is a balance. The construction thing is 100% the cliche “when the cat is away, the mice will play”. I received a really thorough voicemail on my lunch break assuring me that everything was addressed. We’ll see when I get home!

  4. Oh my – I can completely relate to this. I have always been the person that would never send back any food item or dish at a restaurant, because I knew it was not their fault & it made me feel impolite. Also, I used to always hold off on correcting people when they would call me by a different name (I get called Melissa instead of Alyssa more often than you would think)! But there is a fine line between taking ownership of your time, your money, your energy, etc. when it comes to having a backbone and being polite. When people ask favors (and make you take on more errands/don’t pay you back), it’s typically because they’re guarding those resources as well. I am starting to learn that more! I need to take care of myself, too. 🙂

    • Exactly! And I’m starting to realize that while it may stand out to me as confrontational, to someone like our contractor, it probably doesn’t stand out as anything out of the ordinary.

  5. Oh man, I was cringing as I read today’s post. I’m 100% guilty of the same and it’s embarrassing at times. Here’s to making a change! Next time something comes up, I promise to myself to worry less about being polite and more about standing up for myself!

  6. I guess I’ve been lucky. I’ve never had to pursue someone for money. Maybe I’ve just been lucky not to be the one to pay in the first place. Like you, I’m terrible about mentioning money to friends, so I definitely get it.

    But if I’m paying someone, I’m a lot less meek. Still, a little iffy, but I’m much more likely to stand up for myself if I’m paying for a service that isn’t going well.

    I hope you made sure the contractor knows that he’s paying for the heater. They’re welcome to take it with them, but since they didn’t have the proper equipment and were costing you money, I’d say the heater isn’t coming out of your pocket.

    • Absolutely! The heater situation and the fan situation are both being sorted out. As far as luck goes, you probably have a better approach than me. I’m not sure luck has anything to do with it 😉

  7. Being too polite has definitely cost me money, particularly with family members. Sometimes it’s money they were supposed to chip in for a gift. Once it was an inheritance they weren’t entitled to but I gave them a share anyway (and they still complained!). Usually I just decide it’s not worth arguing over. But with a contractor or something like that, I need to become a bit more assertive.

  8. I can’t stand owing people money either. And, like you, I find it very difficult to remind people that they owe me. Sometimes I think there really is a sort of cultural understanding (albeit among only a subset of the population) that there’s no need to really worry about these things because everything will eventually work itself out through, like, karma. (But it won’t!)

    I am also TOTALLY with you on the niceness thing. I also think there is a large gender component here — not to take a victim stance or whatever, but just to acknowledge it. In any case, it’s definitely something that I’m working on. But it’s tough.

    I really hope everything gets sorted out with the contractor!

  9. Bravo for speaking up! I am probably a bit less constrained in terms of confronting people, but I often find that *not* speaking up just upsets me more. So even though it’s sometimes tough to muster up the will to say something, I’ve concluded that I usually feel better when I do, which is about a hundred thousand times better than silently seething or carrying a grudge. So keep going — you’re on the right path! I promise it gets easier. 🙂

  10. Because of the differences between our personalities, I am always the bad cop in this house. I am always the one who says “no” to people, refuses to let people get extra money from us, and negotiates all terms when we deal with people or businesses. I think I am just naturally a big B because it doesn’t really bother me.

  11. Politeness works best when everyone is considerate. And, as a southern girl, I was always taught to use my manners (even as a weapon, if necessary). I’m just not very good at aggressively polite…mine always comes out as shrill. Those who’ve mastered it I admire. My grandmother could get her way and what she wanted without ever being seen as anything but ladylike. I do think, though, she was aided by a society where manners were valued and people were more cognizant of what others thought of their behavior.

  12. When I started out blogging, I had to find ways to learn to look past it being politeness and seeing the objective view: I paid for a service. Did you render it? If not, we have to talk.

    After several years of training, you know what I’ve realized? I’m ok with people thinking I’m aggressive or a jerk or a bitch. Go on, think ALL the thoughts you want and I dare you to say it out loud to me while I’m already making your mangy butt fix whatever you screwed up in the first place. That’s right, I’m preemptively belligerent too!

    It turns out that once I shed my “flight” reaction from childhood and young adulthood, it left me with “fight.” And that’s no bad thing at all because as PiC likes to say: “I’m a complainer, she’s a doer. If I complain or whine about someone doing me wrong, she gets up and makes someone fix it!” Over the years, though, his congratulations have also led him to pick up a lesson or two and he’ll come home bragging about how he actually made someone fix their errors. I’m proud 😀

    Even though my approach does not always start off aggressively, in my heart I know I WILL get satisfaction and it’s up the other party how much pain they want to suffer before paying up so I am much more confident. It’s on them whether they want this to get rude, it’s not on me because I will start off quite politely.

    As a dear friend pointed out, only the closest and toughest friends have the guts to go toe to toe with me. That’s right! 😉

  13. Wow. You were really taken for a ride. Good for you if you wish to change. It’s important to be a little assertive or people will be willing to trample on you.

    I’ve seen this happen lots of times at the grocery store. Someone will come up and try to skip ahead in line at the cashier’s table. Before, I would let them go ahead but now I smile and say, ‘Wait your turn please.’ I don’t know why people don’t follow general etiquette.

  14. Oh, I feel your pain. It is a tough balance. There were the other kids in school who always wanted to “borrow” a piece of gum. Um, no thanks, I don’t want it back. But when it happened every day and I had to finance their treats as well as mine, it was simpler to just not bring any at all.
    Now, it depends on the situation. Restaurant celebrations get tricky when I don’t know everyone in the group well. They each have several drinks, appetizers, and dessert when I only order a simple meal, then they tell the server to split the bill evenly. It stinks, but it’s probably better to go along and avoid similar situations in the future than to cause a ruckus at the time.
    When possible, though, I’ll ask the server for separate checks ahead of time.

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