Monday, May 22, 2006

I Don't Want To Be A Diplomat

di·plo·ma·cy
1 : the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations
2 : skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility : TACT


How rich is it that I am finally learning diplomacy skills? I am an Aries through and through and by that I mean, I lack what is commonly referred to as tact.

It seems, week after week, my skills are being tested and through this testing I am becoming more and more adept at delivering difficult information without inspiring a person's ire. Here are three recent examples:

1) An artist has designed poster art which we do not like. In any way. It is ick. Ugly. And she never checked in with us to show us preliminary sketches so now. . . what to do? We can't just use it for the sake of her feelings. It's our biggest money making event of the year. We can't have some donkey poster/t-shirt just because we don't want to tell the truth.

Lesson learned: Always get a contract signed and always see the product before it is finished.

2) A volunteer/client attends the all day volunteer training a few weeks ago. Apparenly he is very upset because (in his mind) we "pander" to clients and don't provide them with "meaningful" volunteer opportunities. It is as though he has attended an entirely different training. He leaves angry messages about how we are "heartless." I call him back and apologize but I do not go over the top about it. We agree to disagree. He actually thanks me for the call.

Lesson learned: Try to weed out weirdos prior to the training.

3) A former volunteer lashed out at a local tech company because of its affiliation with another non-profit. Apparently he has very strong feelings against this non-profit organization and was rallying all his friends/collegues to cease their services with this tech company because of a fundraiser they were collaborating on. Not knowing this angry person except by name and reputation as someone who has helped many of our clients AND being in a work relationship with the tech company because of collaborative partnerships with my agency, I am in between a rock and a hard place. How to not get overly involved but take a stand? He wants to tell me why they are horrible and they want me to write a letter of support on their behalf.

Lesson learned: I do not get paid enough to deal with this bullshit.

Do jobs actually exist where a person's sanity is not tested on a daily basis? I honestly don't know what I will do with myself if I find myself in one.

14 comments:

jeopardygirl said...

Short answer to your last question, Sizz: NO. Every job has some insane bullshit we have to deal with--even being a homemaker.

As for the artist, tell her it's not what you had in mind, stress how important it is that the logo/art for this event capture the spirit of the gathering. Then tell her to try again and give her a strict-ish deadline.

Good luck...and no, you probably DON'T get paid enough to deal with all that bullshit. Chin up, kiddo.

gorillabuns said...

i don't think jobs exist without some level of bullshit involved! my standard answer for these situations, "i don't know the answer to whatever you are talking about. let me find someone else who does...." hence, you don't get paid enough to deal with the bs and someone else does....

Sizzle said...

i wish there WAS someone higher up than me who i could give this stuff too. next job there better be!

;) s

kapgar said...

Good lessons. And I'm right there with you on the final one.

suze said...

i'm afraid there isn't a job in all the land that doesn't test one's sanity daily. I know I've yet to find one...

JustRun said...

I don't think you can avoid it. Unless you're a slacker who doesn't care, you're going to take the B.S. personally. It seems like if it's not coming from outside the office, it's coming from the inside.

Mikey said...

Hell even my job has it's bullshit days sometimes. There is no avoiding it Sizz. You take the good, you take the bad. Man I sound like an 80's show DVD that was just released!!!

Rabbit said...

Do jobs actually exist where a person's sanity is not tested on a daily basis?

No. Then everyone would want one.

Gary said...

You know the old saying: whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger? That may not be true, but at least you can hope it is. :)

Bre said...

I'd sure love to know the answer to that one! But sadly, if there was one, I'm sure it would be rather boring - like counting feathers or something equally stupid.

jjjj said...

Just tell the artist the poster isn't something you all had envisioned. Being an artist myself....she will be fine. And have her re-do something else...unless she already printed up 10,000 of the ugly beasts.

Bill said...

Jean-Paul Sarte: "Hell is other people."

I have no idea how to do it but it sounds like many volunteers need to understand that the role of the volunteer is to help, not make things more difficult.

Jules said...

that's it.

i'm coming back.

i cannot stand not being privy to the day-to-day oddities of The Org.

And learning from them, as you always-brilliantly do.

Melissa said...

Sometimes, no matter how badly you want to be tactful, it just isn't an option. Sometimes people just need to get their feelings hurt. No matter how badly you always want to carefully plan your words and tone you can't always do it. I keep a box of tissue on my desk for just that purpose.