Toughen up. But practice a bit first.
Turns out, I might be a bit of a marshmallow.
What prompted me to start this blog was, well, a number of things. First the debt. But second was the realization last fall that I was charged premiums on a mortgage insurance policy for a mortgage that no longer existed. Then I got tough. And it got fixed. And that was an important lesson. One I might not have taken with me along the way.
It’s tough to be tough. I’ve tried with strangers – the telephone company, the cable company, the insurance company – some success but I think I was out maneuvered by some savvy customer service reps.
Then I tried with my kids – no drive thru, no treats, no take-out. That was even tougher. But it worked. Probably a mom thing.
Then I had to be tough with friends. Not going there, not doing that. Not buying those fundraiser cookies. Not going to that tupperware party. They understood.
The one refuge to my toughness has always been the people with whom I work. Contractors, employees, suppliers and clients. I still maintain an ineffective amount of marshmallowness. But we’re three quarters through the year and I’ve realized that even that has to change. And it’s the hardest part. But it might be the most important part. If you have challenging news to deliver, practice first. Rehearse what you’ll say and why. Don’t get bitchy or play the guilt card. Just lay it out and if you can, offer them a choice. I can no longer do this, but I can do that. Think about it and let me know. I’ll accept, and respect, your decision.
We do so much for approval. I’d happily admit it’s just me, but I know that’s not true (look at me being tough). More and more, I understand that success isn’t about being a well-liked person, as much about being a well-respected person. And respect can only be given and received if the proper boundaries are in place. Be honest. Be firm. Be fair. You’ll like yourself a lot more. And you’ll find that the world will return the favour with the respect each of us deserve.
If you pay your bills, you deserve respect. Never be afraid to ask for it, even if it’s tough.