Posted by fxckfeelings on July 17, 2014Share This Post
No matter what drew you to your current job—having to pay rent, wanting to fulfill a lifelong passion, being forced step up where no one else can or will—you do the work because it’s got to be done, and if it didn’t, it would be called play. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t refuse to do work that you believe is not required, or that feeling underappreciated and overworked is always a good excuse to take a break. Instead of reacting to the pressure of your job, be objective in examining your job description. Then, whether you have to say no to someone who expects too much of you or deny your own wounded feelings, you’ll know you got the job done right.
I’m a photographer, so when my father asked me to take some portraits of a cousin and her husband as an anniversary present, I was happy to contribute. I went all out for them, and they seemed to really enjoy the results. Unfortunately, they enjoyed them so much that my cousin asked me to do more pictures, this time with their kids and grandkids, with the assumption that the next session would also be free. I tried to explain to her that I’d be losing too much money if I did another session—not just on rentals, but on my time—but she just took it as a personal offense, like I was breaking a promise to her and to my father. I’ve done everything I can to explain my position, but she won’t believe me, and while my dad seems to understand, he’s still pretty upset. My goal is to resolve this issue and get her to see that I’m not a liar, just someone who needs to make a living.
Whenever you have a dissatisfied client or customer, never tell yourself that the customer is always right. If your services are in demand, you’re going to meet many customers, and some of them, even if you’re related to them, are bound to be Assholes™.
An Asshole™ customer is rarely right because they’re rarely happy; no matter what you do, you’re dealing with someone who has inflated expectations and no sense of their own responsibilities or obligations. You cannot do right by someone who cannot be pleased.
No matter who your customer is, you’re the only one who can judge whether their complaints are reasonable while not taking their criticism too personally; if you’re too responsive to customers, you give them an opportunity to wear you down.
Clearly, you feel you’re right to say no to this client about her expectation that you’ll do additional work for her for free. Your need to get her approval and blessing, however, means that you can’t stop defending yourself as long as she’s upset.
Instead, develop a simple complaint response procedure. Ask yourself whether you gave her proper information about what she should expect for her money; the fact that she’s getting your services for free makes this judgment easy. Now compose a statement, as much for yourself as for her and your father.
She feels you promised something you didn’t deliver, which, for both personal and professional reasons, is something you never want to happen, and you’re upset she feels this way. You’ve thought over carefully what you said to her, however, and whether it met your requirements for keeping her fully informed, and you feel it has. You don’t know exactly how the misunderstanding arose, but you’re confident you did your best to prevent it. In any case, you’re pleased with the work you did and regret that you don’t have the opportunity, given your current schedule, to do more.
After that, make clear to your father that, if he wants to bring up the issue, the conversation is over. If he wants to stay angry, he won’t get a response. If he stays angry too long, your meetings will be shorter and fewer. You’ve made your judgment and you stand by it.
One of the few protections we have against Assholes™ is the belief in our own judgment. If you don’t have that, you will find yourself bending over backwards so far for every Asshole™ customer that your spine will snap and you’ll have a brand new asshole in your face—your own.
“I hate to leave a client dissatisfied, particularly when it’s a family member and my father believes they’re right, but I know my business and what I actually said and I’m confident I did the right thing. This is a good opportunity for my father to know that, while he’s entitled to his own judgment, his views don’t trump mine.”
I work hard all day, so I don’t really understand why my wife expects me to get up with our kid in the middle of the night. I know she takes care of them all day, but that’s only because she doesn’t have to go to work, like I do, or wake up early to punch the clock. The fact that she gives me attitude doesn’t help. I try to treat her with respect, and I want to tell her about my day, and she wants me to take the kid while she goes into the other room and relaxes. My goal is to not let myself be disrespected and taken for granted when my wife asks me to carry her load.
It can seem humiliating to come home after a hard day’s work and be told what to do, instead of being listened to and given your slippers and a cold drink. Before you assume you’re getting mistreated, however, or start looking for a time machine to take you back to the 1950s, take a look at your wife’s job description. You could even try to walk in her shoes by taking the kids for a day. Either way, consider for yourself whether she has a substantial workload and compare it to your own. Then do what’s best for you and your family.
If she’s hard working, even if she has a baby to feed instead of a clock to punch, you both probably feel tired and needy by the end of the day. If you could afford a household staff to raise your kid and get that icy drink, you would, but you don’t.
That means you’re both going to be exhausted and irritable a lot of the time, and open resentment will spark bickering that will leave both of you wishing to dump on someone. Then you’ll be doubly unhappy that you’re at odds with the person whose support you need the most. That’s why shutting your mouth is as important as being respected isn’t.
Once you’ve satisfied yourself that you’re both hard-working, and that you’re not being asked to do substantially more than your share, think of ways to express respect for your wife’s efforts and your own, regardless of the fact that your feelings run the other way. Don’t hide the fact that you’ve been knocking yourself out, but make a point of your appreciation for her efforts.
Try to schedule some time when you can relax together. Once she’s relaxed, you can do some sharing. Until then, any demands may trigger a groan, but don’t let yourself get insulted or take it personally.
There’s never enough time, money, or energy for parenting, and the resulting exhaustion puts strain on any marriage. Don’t fall into the trap of expecting sunshine from your spouse, or confusing not going to work and raising the kids with not working. If she’s doing her share and you’re doing yours, you’ve got a good thing that’s worthy of respect from anyone.
“I hate being ignored and bossed around, but I know my wife’s behavior is not much different from my own after a hard day’s work, and I know she’s doing a hard day’s work. I will keep my irritation under control while I try to stimulate some positive thinking and a plan that will give us both appreciation and relief.”
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