“F*uck Off.”

Just a warning that this is a different kind of post, less tactical and more humanistic.

I was prompted to write this because of a LinkedIn message I received after sharing an article with one of my connections. This was the third article I’d sent him. (It’s important here that he opted in to receive these, and I promised to only send one per month, which I did.)

While a handful of my connections have politely asked not to receive the content after receiving a few articles, he took a different approach.

His response? And I quote:

F*ck off. Am really tired of your stupid messages. 

Now, what would you have done in this situation? Told him to f*ck off too? Ignored him?

Here’s what I wrote:

Hey, no need to be rude. I’ll take you off the list. No problem. Hope your day gets better from here.

Why did I phrase it this way?

  1. He needed to be called out for being rude.
  2. I told him I’d do as he asked.
  3. I wanted to acknowledge him as a human being.

It turns out that there was a misunderstanding. He wrote me back and said he was angry because he thought he’d “deleted” me several times, even though I wasn’t aware of that. I apologized and told him I’d take him off my list and not contact him again.

My point here isn’t to embarrass anyone or claim some kind of moral superiority. Not at all. But this exchange reminded me that we all deal with real people in our companies. They have bad days. They get irritated. They paint with a broad brush. They put their foot in the mouth. And in my case, they make assumptions about other people that turn out to be incorrect.

Honestly, I would have been pissed off too if I thought someone was spamming me. Can’t blame him for that.

When dealing with a situation like this, it’s how you react that matters.

This doesn’t mean you don’t point out their rudeness to them, which I did in this case, but you also need to show some compassion and assume the person is angry about something else. Maybe that compassion is enough to make the person realize what they did or said and take stock. Maybe they’ll even reveal the real problem or issue so that you can help.

I was sincere in hoping my connection’s day got better. As I recovered from the initial shock of his vulgar reply, this lead/connection became a real person to me again. And I genuinely wished him well, whether I get any business from him or not.

I doubt he’s reading this (hence the “stupid” comment), but if he is, I want him to know that I wish him and his business all the best. Everyone deserves a mulligan now and again. We all bleed red, after all.

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