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Friday, April 24, 2009

If You're Gonna Insult Someone, Do It Right!

I was doing some work from a Panera Bread today (my "mobile office," if you will), when two employees got into a small exchange. Actually, one was irritated about something and the other one was egging him on.

The irritated employee responds with, "You know what, why don't you go jump off a short cliff."

Think about it...Let it sink in...Got it?

Why would you tell someone to jump off a short cliff? I mean, if you were mad, wouldn't you want him to jump off a tall, giant cliff? The guy could be ok after falling off a short cliff. Maybe he was some kind of magnanimous insulter who just wanted the guy to sprain an ankle and not suffer suffer long term harm.

I suppose "cliff" implies height, so in reality even a short cliff could cause serious injury. But this is the world of insults!. Reality has no place. This would be the same thing as walking into a "Yo Momma is So" contest and saying, "You momma is so fat that she gets short of breathe climbing the stairs." True? Sure. Funny as an insult? Not really.

Of course the insulted employee caught this immediately (he was much better at verbal sparring) and responded, "short cliff? Why a short cliff? Wouldn't you want me to jump off Mt. Everest or something?" Touche...

Yes, I get that the first guy mixed his insults and combined, "jump off a tall cliff," and "take a long walk off a short pier." But none of that mattered.

Lesson #1: Inter-employee bickering should be done behind closed doors. Don't argue with your coworkers in public, and don't let your employees argue in public. Otherwise you may end up in a blog post.

Lesson #2: Make sure you have some competence in the activity you engage in. i.e. don't get into an insult battle if it's not your thing.

Lesson #3: You should pick the field of battle. This is a fundamental principle of warfare and fighting. Fight on your terms. Create a home field advantage. Set yourself up for success. So don't trade insults if it's not your thing. Don't schedule important things in the morning if that's not your best time (no matter how many motivational books tell you to do so). Don't make an important call while you're on an airplane waiting to take off.

Lesson #4: Sometimes Many times, keeping your mouth shut is the best policy. Do I really need to explain this further?

Lesson #5: If as a customer you don't want to overhear employee interactions, don't sit at the back near the kitchen. Of course then you would miss out on all the fun...

P.S. If you type the word insults sometimes it comes out as "insluts," which would have made this a very, very different post.

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