I was tempted to use the title "How to Say Fuck Off Politely", but I changed my mind. It's true that we should not write nor say anything while we are feeling angry or frustrated. Sticks and stones may break some bones, but "words" destroy the soul. Thus, it is important that we calm down, count some sheep (LOL, isn't that if we wanted to sleep?), compose ourselves before we utter words or write down sentences.
I had the most frustrating afternoon, ever. I work as a systems consultant. I was discussing some technical matters with a client for a prospective I.T. project (I used the term I.T., which is a general term that stands for Information Technology so as not to sound too geeky… oops, too late. Geek!). Although the discussion was through e-mail, it took a lot of time and effort in corresponding with a person who has exhibited quite an ineptitude for the subject matter we are analyzing. I have no choice. The client has appointed her as the liaison to discuss the project with me in its conceptualization stage. Eventually, she would be the project manager on the client side. Our email thread is like a bad deja vu on constant replay (redundancy much?) - the explanations, remarks, and countermarks run in circles.
Have you had such an experience? My option is to ask for a replacement. But this will jeopardize her position in the company and I would not want to be the cause of her career's demise. So, what should I do? How can I tell her to fuck off, I mean back off, or get lost politely so that she would be the one to ask for someone else to handle the project?
When faced with a similar difficult work situation, you can follow my suggestions:
1. be honest. Write a short letter telling her that the situation is in a state where both parties won't get anything out of it, and that this is due to her lack of knowledge or experience with the project at hand. You are not telling her that she is stupid. You are just pointing an objective view of the current situation;
2. be professional. Write the letter in a way that will not demean your reader. The industry which you work in is not as expansive as the universe. You may meet each other in a different place, time, and situation. You may need her assistance in the future. Therefore, do not close doors. Write your letter in a professional way;
3. be straight to the point. Do not beat around the bush. Address the problem directly. Convey your message in simple sentences that exactly captures your thoughts. Eliminate vague phrases that cause confusion;
4. suggest ways to resolve the issue. Your letter is half-written if you did not list ways on how to solve the problem. Make sure that your recommendations are suitable and doable. Do not just complain about the problem, solve it as well;
5. be patient. Sooner or later, the problem will be resolved. It's the natural order of things. But it will require effort on your part. First, always follow-up then, patiently wait for the positive outcome.
I intend to do this tomorrow. Promise! I am in the stage of counting sheep, I mean "calming down" from the heated exchange of emails with a prospective client. I am sure that tomorrow, when everything is clear and understood, I'll write that letter asking her to back down, reconsider in giving the project to someone else. FINGERS CROSSED.