Dealing With People You Hate

9/1/1995 

I saw a book this week titled “Dealing with People You Can’t Stand.”  I immediately couldn’t stand the author.

I didn’t read the book, but I could tell by the title that it skirted the issue, particularly in our business.  “Dealing With People You Can’t Stand” won’t cut it in our industry.  It’s not strong enough.  That’s why this Editorial is called “Dealing With People You Hate.”

Because of the nature of our business, we have to deal with people we hate every day.  More often than not, the ones we hate the most are the ones we have to deal with the most.  Maybe that’s why we hate them.  I don’t necessarily mean that we hate the people.  It’s that we hate to deal with the personalities of the people we encounter.  We don’t have the time to develop relationships with many of those with whom we must do business.  To truly hate someone, it is necessary to get to know them.  However, hatred for particular attitudes, personalities or acts doesn’t take nearly so long.

So I guess this Editorial should be called “People Whose Attitudes, Personalities Or Acts We Hate.”  But that would be too ambiguous and if that was the title, I would hate myself.

This Editorial identifies those we hate and gives you some pointers on how you can deal with them more effectively.  I’ve divided the particulars into four broad categories.  You might have more or less, but you aren’t writing the Editorial.  Don’t you hate that? For me, these categories work.  Hopefully, they will work for you.  If not, you can hate me.

“Carson Confrontation.”  Carson is the guy who approaches each conversation like a war.  He doesn’t just want to argue his point, he also wants to argue yours.  He wants not only to prove he’s right, he wants to prove you’re wrong…and ignorant to boot.  Carson doesn’t speak, he screams.  Carson believes volume will outweigh his lack of facts.  Carson very seldom has facts.  He picks a position that fits his mood and runs with it…usually over the person in front of him.  Carson throws his arms, stands with his feet apart and moves into the space occupied by the person he’s confronting.

How do you get along with Carson?  By confronting him.  Do not run away from his bluster.  If the facts are in your favor…argue them…loudly.  Imitate his body language.  Stand your ground.  You might not win the battle, but you can win the war.  Confrontationists expect to run over people.  They developed their personality for a reason.  They grudgingly respect someone who fights back.  Also, the confrontationist likes to win every argument.  If he knows you will argue back, he will choose another target.  Just make sure you have your facts totally correct.  If you’re wrong on one tiny thing, he will harp on it forever.

“Kristi Know-It-All.”  Kristi has all the answers.  You have none.  She’s sure of it and will make you aware of it early in any discussion.  Kristi will interrupt any explanation on your part and say, “I know that won’t work.”  You can explain all you want, but it does no good.  She’s quick to point out all of her experience, her education and her intelligence in killing your ideas with a broad stroke, never getting around to specifics.  You can’t argue with her because she’s unwilling to listen.  She’s the program director who tells you a record won’t work on her radio station.  Period.  If you’re foolish enough to ask why, she’ll tell you it’s because she knows how to program her radio station and you know nothing about it.

How do you crack this nut?  By carefully doing your homework.  Find out what Kristi wants and provide accurate information that will lead her to her own conclusions.  Deal with her by letters and memos.  Kristi read more than the average person.  This is one of the reasons she thinks she knows it all.  She hates confrontation.  Outline, in writing, how your proposal will lead her to the decision she wants to make.  Then she’ll believe you’re almost as well-read and intelligent as her.  This is a double-edged sword, for she might make you a compatriot.  Then you’ll have to sit through long discussions while she tries to prove how smart she is.

“Annette Agreeable.”  Annette agrees with almost everything anyone says.  Annette doesn’t often offer an opinion of her own.  Annette hasn’t heard a record she doesn’t like.  Ask her about one of yours and she’ll probably answer in the positive.  She’s quick to let you pay for dinner or trips or anything else.  She hugs you when you meet because you’re one of her close friends.  She’s the epitome of the phrase, “It looks good for next week.”  It’s easy for Annette to forget about your record or your request as soon as you’ve left her because it’s a pretty good bet that Annette hasn’t listened to a word you said.  Annette also has another person to see right after you.  It’s impossible to pressure Annette into a decision on the spot.  You wind up feeling so positive about your proposition that you’re astounded when what you’ve proposed doesn’t happen.  If you confront her on your confusion, she’ll probably just smile and, “We’ll take care of it next time.”

Annette is a tough one.  Your best bet is to schedule your meeting or call with her as close to her decision time as possible.  If you’re the last one giving her advice, she’s more apt to remember a little of what you said.  If you’re trying to get a record played, call her often and at the last minute.  If you get her just before she does the list, you’ve got a shot.

“Andy Avoid-And-Deny.”  Andy is the worst.  He’s quick to pick up on something you supposedly said or did and hold it against you.  For no reason that you know of, Andy will refuse your calls.  He will put you off forever and then when you finally get the opportunity to talk, he will deny that anything was ever wrong.  He has every excuse for not taking your calls, none of which are the real reason.  When you see him, he’ll act like one of your closest friends…the not take your calls again for days or weeks at a time.

How do you deal with him?  You don’t.  He has a small group of support people who feel the same way. They would rather talk among themselves and criticize others rather than work productively.  Get someone else to pitch your case.  It’s the only way.  And when he finally comes around…suck up.

Then go home and hate yourself.  It’s part of your job!

Shut Up And Deal

8/25/1995

The hustlers and hookers they filled the room…down at the place they call the Spanish Moon…

Big John waved a hand in front of his face.  “I can’t breathe from all of the smoke in here.”

I got up to open the doors leading into the backyard.  The room had started getting cloudy after the first hour of the weekly poker game.

“Fight fire with fire,” Barney growled, tossing a cigar in his direction.

Big John turned up his nose.  “I don’t like smoke.”

“Neither do I,” Barney snarled as he inhaled another Marlboro.  “Shut up and deal.”

Smiley grinned and stared at the lights.

There was whiskey…and bad cocaine…the poison will get you just the same…

“What in the hell is that music?” Big John blared.

“Man, you bitch too much,” Burt grumbled.  He nudged Barney.  “I told you we shouldn’t have invited him.”

“Nobody invited me,” Big John said.  “I just showed up on my own.”

“How’d you know how to get here?”

Big John matched Smiley’s grin.  “I just drove around until I saw all the buzzards circling around this house.  I knew I’d find a bunch of dead losers in here.”

“Man, that’s cold,” Little Stevie One said.

“Shut up, boy,” Big John coughed as he lit the cigar.  “Nobody invited you, either.  You wouldn’t be at this game ’cept you’re visiting from New York.  We’ll take East Coast money anytime.”

“Don’t break hard on my buddy,” Little Stevie Two jumped in.  “I invited him.”

“You shut up, too,” Big John spat.  He cast a derisive glance at the two Stevies.  “I don’t know why we let radio people in this game anyhow.”

“So we can take your money legally,” Little Stevie One said as he threw five white chips into the middle of the table. “Ante up.”

“All you guys can it!” I put in my money.  “That’s getting awfully close to business talk.  One more slip and it’ll cost you fifty dollars.”

“The hell you say.” Big John made the pot right.  “Besides, you’ve got this music playing.  I’m sure that’s a subliminal message your subtle, skinny ass is trying to get across.”

“It’s Little Feat, you idiot,” Burt laughed.  “It’s so old, you worked it at Columbia.”

Big John slapped his hand down.  “That is business talk, boy, put fifty in the middle.”

Burt flipped him off.

“Play cards,” Johnny C said from the corner.

“Play cards?” Barney lit another cigarette.

“You’ve been in the deep freeze ever since you won the first two pots.  Why don’t you try staying in a hand for a change?  You’ll never make it to the car with all that money anyhow.”

I checked my hole cards and made a Plen bet.

“What’s the game?” Big John asked.

“Seven card Macintosh, high-low, two spit cards and you can buy a card for twenty.”

Big John made a face.  “How do you play?”

“Just call the two dollars and we’ll teach you as you go along,” I told him.

“I’ll be damned if I’ll do that,” Big John cried.  “All you guys want is my money.”

“You sound surprised.”

Big John shook his head.  “Nope, just hurt.”

“You keep playing all those hands and you’re really going to get hurt,” Kevin snickered.

Big John gave him a look.  “When I want your opinion, hot shot, I’ll beat it out of you.”

“Come on,” Barney snapped, “bet or fold.”

Big John’s eyebrows twitched and he shot a quick glance in Kevin’s direction.  He threw two chips in the pot and said, “I’ll bet a Seaweed.”

“Foul, damn it!” Johnny C yelled.  “He’s talking business.”

“Fifty bucks, Big John,” I said.  “You know the rules.”

Big John shrugged his shoulders and put in fifty.  “It was worth it.”

“Call the Seaweed,” Smiley said, “And raise you a Lenny Kravitz.”

Before Johnny C could object, Plen tossed in another fifty.

“This is getting bad,” Little Stevie Two said.

Barney studied his cards, pursed his lips and reached for another cigarette.

“You gonna bet or look at those cards all night?” Burt asked.

Barney reached for his chips.  “Call the Seaweed and Lenny Kravitz,” he paused dramatically, “and raise a Prince and a Tom Petty.”

Kevin threw his cards down.  “This is really getting out of control.”

“Hey, I’m paying the tab,” Barney said as he threw in one hundred dollars.

Burt folded.

“What’s up with you?” Big John asked.

“They’re already playing all of my records.”

Cards turned and the chips piled up in the middle.  The table got tense.  Smiley wasn’t smiling.  Johnny C was in the freezer.  Big John held his cards closer than a newborn child.

“Showtime,” Smiley said.   “Let’em flop.”

Little Stevie One already had the lock low.  It was a matter of who would split the pot with him…Big John or Little Stevie Two.

“Read’em and weep,” Big John cried.  “Full house…Aces over Queens.”  He reached for his share of the money.

“Not so fast,” Little Stevie Two said.

The table quieted down once more.  All eyes were on the second Stevie. He played the moment like a maestro.

“Turn’em over,” Barney ordered.

Little Stevie Two did.  “A blaze,” he said proudly.

Big John stared at the cards.  “A blaze?” he yelled.  “What the hell is a blaze?”

“Three diamonds, two hearts,” Little Stevie Two answered.

Big John’s face turned beet red.  He leaned back in his chair and bit his lip.  While the two Stevies split the pot, Big John opened his mouth a time or two to say something, but never did.

Finally, he leaned over and whispered in my ear.  “Does a blaze beat a full house?”

I nodded.  “It does in this game…as long as a radio guy is holding it.”

He shook his head.  “That don’t hardly seem right.”

I shrugged.  “So, what are you going to do?”

He was quite for a moment, then began shuffling the cards.  “Shut up and deal.”