Too much brutal honesty?
January 25, 2006 8:57 AM   Subscribe

How much brutal honesty between friends is too much?

Sorry, this is long...

I am seriously struggling with how to deal with a particular person in my life. We've been business partners & friends for the past year. The business is going great and for a time, I thought our friendship was going great as well. The problem seems to be our vastly different personalities. She is an extrovert, outspoken and can be a bull in a china shop at times. She doesn't always think before she talks and she can talk you to death. I'm the direct opposite, basically your textbook introvert and I don't necessary like confrontation, especially without careful consideration.

Anyway without going into too much detail, I've never really had the opportunity to know anyone like her before and for the most part, it's been refreshing and eye-opening, and we click on a lot of levels. She's been able to help me work my way through some of my personal issues through her ability to cut the BS and be honest. Yes, her honesty has stung some times, but I've always stepped back and was able to look at things differently and realize that yes there are some things I can work on and things I can think differently about. I certainly have appreciated that about her.

However lately, her "brutal honesty" is starting to piss me off. Lately, it seems like after any meaningful conversation about work or the stuff going on in our lives, I end up feeling like shit because yet again, somehow, she goes off on a tangent about us having different personalities and how that's frustrating and how my forgetfulness pisses her off or that I'm too passive, too sensitive, etc.

About the forgetfulness, 11 years ago I was diagnosed with ADD and was on medication for only a couple of months because I didn't like the side effects. Since then, I've tried dozens of things in order to try to help with my two biggest problems, focus & a tendency to forget things (specifically task-based things). She knows all this and she knows that my forgetfulness is not intentional and she knows that it is something that I am working on. I try to write things down, but sometimes shit just slips through the cracks and sometimes what she views as forgetfulness is me just ignoring some lower priority stuff in order to focus on higher priority stuff.

Anyway, this past Friday we were in an discussion with one of our employees (my friend’s daughter) in a discussion about another employee (my friends close friend) and this persons lack of effort and the growing conflict between the two employees and wouldn't you know it, next thing I know she basically goes on a rant about me, going on and on about how frustrated she is sometimes, that if we weren't business partners she would have fired me by now, how she has resorted to XYZ in order to deal with me not remembering things, blah blah blah. I guess she was trying to use me as an example of dealing with people shortcomings or something. Needless to say, I was totally blindsided and totally shocked. The discussion didn't even have anything to do with me. I felt so embarrassed and so very hurt.

What's pissing me off is that in a tearful conversation a few weeks ago (after another of her rants) I told her that I was frustrated with her saying shit like that and that I wished she could understand that I was trying to do better and she even acknowledged that yes, she could see the change in me. What I don't understand is why she keeps bringing it up. And most importantly what should I do about it? Since Friday, I've been avoiding her like the plague, for my sanity's sake. I feel like I don't want to be anywhere near her for fear of getting burned yet again. I don't really want to talk to her because I just don't see it going well, especially since I'm not sure she'll hear me, really hear me, plus I know she'll totally out talk me.

I don't know what to do. Am I being a baby about this? I do enjoy running our business together and I enjoy our friendship, but I don’t understand why she does that and I hate feeling like I don’t want to be around her. If I do just need to talk to her, what do I say?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The issue isn't that she's being "honest" but that she's being unfair. I would tell her straight-out that she obviously knows you're aware of these issues, so it's unfair and counter-productive to bring them up all the time; there are certainly things about her that annoy you but you don't feel the need to bring them up in every conversation, and you'd like the same courtesy.

It sounds like she's running roughshod over you. She carps, you say you'll do better. If you're partners, she does not have the right or responsibility to correct you that often. Next time she carps, call her on it. Walk out of the room, stop the conversation, whatever -- just make it clear that your issues are *not* up for discussion.
posted by occhiblu at 9:22 AM on January 25, 2006

You cannot keep working with this person. Could you sell your portion of the business, or buy her out?
posted by LarryC at 9:22 AM on January 25, 2006

It seems to me that you have learned some important things from the friendship that have helped you grow while she has basically not learned anything from her exposure to your personality and, despite your statement that she likes to "cut the B.S.", it sounds to me like she is spewing passive-aggressive B.S. at you rather than directly telling you she can't work with you or doesn't want to work with you.

It may be time for YOU to cut the B.S. and confront her and say, "That's it...out with what's wrong NOW and enough of the petty blindsides and belittling." You need to have a real discussion with her that comes up with real decisions one way or another or she will continue to brow beat you passive aggressively until you leave on her terms out of frustration and hurt. Take what you have learned from her and "cut through the B.S." by stating bluntly that you are not happy.
posted by spicynuts at 9:25 AM on January 25, 2006

While I'm not sure I'd go as hardcore as occhiblu suggests, I would definitely call your friend on this. Nevermind the fact that she brings it up all the time, the fact that she brought this up in front of a subordinate? That's entirely unprofessional.
posted by antifuse at 9:25 AM on January 25, 2006

I am sorry about this situation. I live with someone with ADD who I adore, and I know both your friend's frustration and also your perspective on how much you have been working and trying.

Your friend needs to be told in no uncertain terms that it's inappropriate from a friend and/or business perspective to be airing her issues and frustrations in public. From that point, you need to work on how she deals with her frustrations and problems between the two of you.

It sounds as if she's working from more of a model where remembering things is built into how your business operates and maybe she sees this as a totally normal way to be. However, for whatever reason, that doesn't work for the both of you. Given that, there clearly needs to be a structural change in the way you interact. So, coming from that perspective: GIVEN that you're forgetful, GIVEN that she is not, GIVEN that you're trying to run a business, it seems that there needs to be a new structural approach for how the two of you need to interact.

I don't think you're being a baby at all. If you're friend is SO frustrated that she can't let it go, she needs to find a way to work out that frustration with you and find a way for the two of you to interact that doesn't make her crazy. The two of you need to work out some systems where your forgetfulness and focus issues don't work to the detriment of the business. I think this can be done, and I think it falls on both of you, not just you, to find a way to make this work for your business.

As far as communication goes, you might want to try something like chat or email where your different talking styles won't be as apparent. In my house we have some very structured ways of interacting when we have to work out conflicts which can seem sort of stilted but really helps to level the playing field and make neither of us feel that they're being asked to put their style/issues aside for the other.

I wish you the best of luck, I know this isn't at all easy.
posted by jessamyn at 9:25 AM on January 25, 2006

Anyway, this past Friday we were in an discussion with one of our employees . . . [snip] . . . I felt so embarrassed and so very hurt.

That was completely unprofessional and way out of line on her part, especially because it was in front of another employee. You are absolutely justified in being hurt, embarrassed, angry.

To me this isn't so much her being "brutally honest" as it is being aggressive and thoughtless.

Here's what I would say to her; it may not work for you for reasons I'm going to go over afterwards:

"X, I want to talk to you about [the incident]. For you to say those things in front of Y is fucking bullshit. It was unprofessional and nasty and it made you look even worse than it made me look. If you have a problem with me and the way I do things then I want you to come to me instead of pulling other people into it. It undermines the business and it undermines our friendship. Are you using your "honesty" as an excuse to be nasty to me because of whatever fucked up issues you have in your own head? Because it makes you feel better? Shall I have a companywide meeting and point out to everyone that you're rude and nobody likes you when you're like this? Because we can. Shit, I'll make the conference call right now."

Okay, now that's how I'd do it because bullying makes me angry and vengeful and all that unpleasant stuff and I don't even know if the above you be successful or if it'd make things bad; probably the latter. It's also probably not going to work for you because you already noted how verbally aggressive she is and that she'd out-talk you and to be totally honest I'd bet that she wouldn't listen to a goddamn word if it were you or anybody else who said the above.

Because of that I would say maybe you should cut your losses. People who are like this rarely change. Can you buy her out or vice-versa? Because this is not good-natured ribbing. It's her using a time when you can't defend yourself to attack you, and it signals that she is a Bad Person. And what kind of "friend" is that?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:28 AM on January 25, 2006

I echo the comments above - you need a different way of communicating OR you need to extract yourself from this harmful phase of the relationship. Her "Bull in a china shop" ness will never see your strengths as long as she is allowed to keep harping on about your percieved failings. Even more unfairly, any attempt by you to counter her points with a detailed list of her failings will be brushed aside. As SpicyNuts says "she has not learnbed anything from you". Let's face the truth here, you are being bullied but because the bully has some positive impacts on your life you're putting up with it. In this sense you are in the role of an abused spouse. She shows a lack of respect for you, at very least. Most relationships can deal with a lack of intimacy, affection, communication, etc., for a time but a lack of respect is the death knell INMO.
Good luck trying to deal with this.
posted by Wilder at 9:35 AM on January 25, 2006

Optimus Chyme beat me to it. In airing private differences in a discussion with an employee, Anon's partner was being completely unprofessional. Shockingly so. Based only on what Anon has told us, I'd be inclined to bail on this business, and demand that the partner buy me out.

Anon, I realize you don't like confrontation, but now is the time to get angry, work up a good head of steam, drink a shot of scotch, and thrash it out with your partner.
posted by adamrice at 9:44 AM on January 25, 2006

Wow. This doesn't seem like a simple personality clash to me, it seems like a huge power imbalance. Telling an employee that she'd have fired you - that essentially, you're failing, and she's carrying you, is incredibly undermining. I think it's also a very bad business move not to present a united front to employees. This woman sounds like she's on a huge power trip at your expense, and you're both using the polite fiction that it's a introvert/extrovert thing to avoid dealing with it. The way you tell the story, she has you in a loop of apologizing and promising to do better, and constantly being in the wrong. I don't think you're being a baby at all, I wouldn't want to be around that either.

I think you have to tackle this as head on as you can. Remind yourself of all the important stuff you bring to the business (and the stuff she screws up, if that helps). I think that I would calmly explain to her exactly what she did in the situation with the employee, and try to do it in a way that was about how it made us both look, and how it was rude and out of line, rather than how it made me feel. If you're doing that thing (that's often suggested for dealing with confrontation) where you express things in terms of how they make you feel, I think you should stop. Try to find a way to express why things aren't ok that's calm and reasonable, but not all about your sensitivity. Stick to your guns, try to use questions ("How do you think it makes us both look to argue in front of employees?") and repeat yourself if necessary.

I think I would want to ask her flat out if she wanted to keep working with me, and demand that she stop the behavior if she did. That might be a little too much, especially at first, but I think you need to think about how far you're willing to push this to change it, and whether staying friends/in business with her is non-negotiable.

As an aside, if you had a more equal relationship, and she really was just tactless, instead of trying to put you down all the time (my reading of this) you might respond to what she did as a joke, by laughing and saying "yes! and I'd have fired you too, for getting off the subject and ranting!... hahaha.. etc". You'd need to be careful it didn't seem passive aggressive, and I think you have more to gain here from being calm and straightforward.

Good luck!
posted by crabintheocean at 9:47 AM on January 25, 2006

My mom does a milder version of this. Obviously the mother/daughter thing adds another layer that isn't in your situation.

I've taken occhiblu's approach. I come to visit, she says I need to lose weight. I say "Ok, I need to lose weight. Now you've told me. I heard you. You don't ever need to say it again." If she say it again, I do not respond at all to the substance of the comment, I just say something to the effect of "You already told me that. If you want to keep talking about that, let me know so I can go somewhere else while you keep talking." That's when I'm feeling especially annoyed by it.

My mom and I are close enough that the relationship can survive that sort of comment relatively intact. This may not work with your partner.

In my less annoyed more-recognizing-of-her-lack-of-malice moments (and I'm not convinced your partner lacks malice), I say "Why would you say that?" And she'll say "Because you need to lose weight." I say "Yes, but why would you *say* I need to lose weight. What do you think could possibly be accomplished by saying that over and over again?" I think this actually does help because she sees that it serves no purpose other than to upset me. She still says it out of reflex sometimes, but definitely less for the rest of the visit.

Oh, and if she says anything about it in front of other people "Oh, duck needs to lose weight." I call her on it right in front of them. I've noticed she thinks she can sneak comments like that in when other people are around because I won't be able to say anything. So I say something in front of other people, and there goes that idea.

I should add that this isn't a constant or even frequent dynamic between us (I think in part because I just won't listen to it), which makes the situation a little different from yours and we have far more positive interactions than negative ones, which again sounds different from your situation.

* The "lose weight" thing is one example. She has plenty of other ideas for my self-improvement.

** I hope this post doesn't make my mom sound like a terrible mom. This really isn't frequent and she is a fantastic mom.
posted by duck at 9:57 AM on January 25, 2006

There is a world of difference between being plainspoken and just being an asshole. Your partner sounds like she definitely falls in the latter category.

You've said this is a problem of personality types, introvert vs. extrovert, but it really sounds more like doormat vs. bully. You're spending all this time trying to figure out what she's thinking, and blaming yourself, and working on how to make things right. I guarantee you, she's not spending a second of her day worrying about your feelings.

This woman belittles you in front of your employees and treats you with contempt, but you're worried about your friendship. What kind of "friend" acts like that? Listen, she doesn't respect you. Even though you're partners, she does not consider you an equal, and you have to change that. You have to confront her and tell her in no uncertain terms that the way she's been acting is offensive and grossly unprofessional and you won't tolerate it any longer.
posted by Gamblor at 9:59 AM on January 25, 2006

It's interesting that you framed this as an issue between friends, rather than as an issue between business partners. Reading your description of the situation, I think the rules and etiquette of the workplace are much more applicable.

Perhaps that's what's slowing you down: that you are thinking of her as a friend first, and a business partner second. That could also be contributing to the power imbalance: you view her primarily as a friend, and she views you primarily as a business partner.
posted by alms at 10:05 AM on January 25, 2006

People too often confuse "brutal honesty" with rudeness. I echo what was said above. I am an introvert, but also I am an effective manager because (I like to think), I am able to let the small stuff slide but have identified my core values that I will not compromise on, even if it makes me really uncomfortable to confront them, either with employees, peers or bosses.
I would assume that the fact you own your own biz you must have some strengths, it sounds like you make hella effort and if your biz partner can not learn to work with your strengths and accommodate your weaknesses it is not a good partnership.
So, either 1) demand change, 2) leave, or 3) negotiate to have her leave.
If you end up in a situation where you are the sole proprietor find someone (not necessarily a partner) who can act to counter your weaknesses without being an asshole.
posted by edgeways at 10:05 AM on January 25, 2006

I think everyone has given good advice about the relationship part of this, but I just wanted to suggest that you might want to check in with a professional about your ADD and see if there's a different medication you could try. Things have changed in 11 years and there are now extended release pills as well as non-stimulant medications. My husband and I and two of our children all have ADD/HD and we all take completely different medications to manage it. Good luck.
posted by Biblio at 10:14 AM on January 25, 2006

I used to pride myself in my abilities to be brutally honest.

It took a long while for me to realize that I wasn't being brutally honest, but brutally critical.

There line is easy to cross if you don't know it's there, but the difference in people's attitudes towards you are HUGE.

I would try to bring up the difference between being brutally honest and brutally critical... It sounds as if your business partner may need to be reminded
posted by hatsix at 10:17 AM on January 25, 2006

Something I have picked up from past incidents like this is that when you have a discussion with her about this you need to be very deliberate in keeping your gripes on point. Namely, that it's not the content of these talks that you're taking issue with but the manner and volume. It sounds like all the past efforts to discuss this have gotten derailed into discussions about you and your traits and whether or not your partner is entitled to be bothered by them.

That's irrelevant and you shouldn't get into it. If she wants to have that discussion about her issues tell her you'll be glad to do it at a future time, but right now you need to talk to her about your problems. Make it clear that it's the how of her talks about these things and undermining you in front of employees is making your work situation untenable.

I concur with others; this isn't an intro/extrovert issue, though perhaps she's glommed on to that explanation in her life to rationalize when people react poorly to her bullying. It makes it harder for you since she's apparently gotten the message that she can run roughshod over others and claim it's "just her way" but you're going to have to plant your heels firmly and demand you be treated with respect and courtesy, or else.
posted by phearlez at 10:18 AM on January 25, 2006

She is...a bull in a china shop at times. She doesn't always think before she talks and she can talk you to death...

Her honesty has stung some times...

After any meaningful conversation about work or the stuff going on in our lives, I end up feeling like shit...

She goes off on a tangent my forgetfulness pisses her off or that I'm too passive, too sensitive, etc...

...she basically goes on a rant about me, going on and on about how frustrated she is sometimes, that if we weren't business partners she would have fired me by now...

I felt so embarrassed and so very hurt.

...I'm not sure she'll hear me, really hear me, plus I know she'll totally out talk me.

Someone who does this is not your friend.

Someone who does this should not be your business partner.

Someone who does is not practicing "brutal honesty," she is just being brutal.

I agree with all the advice given above. However, looking at your statements regarding your interactions with her - stripped of your self-depracating qualifications - its clear that this person is neither friend nor partner, but insensitive bitch who you might consider removing from your life ASAP.
posted by googly at 10:29 AM on January 25, 2006

You need to learn to cut her off. Become a person who just won't take it and people won't keep giving it.
posted by callmejay at 10:40 AM on January 25, 2006

I should clarify. By "cut her off," I meant stop her from saying those things, not necessarily ending the relationship.


She: "You know, your forgetfulness blah blah..."

You: "I'm aware of your opinion. As you know, I'm doing my best. If you'd prefer a different partner or friend, that's your prerogative. I don't care to discuss this matter with you right now."

If absolutely necessary, perhaps you could schedule her criticism. Whenever she brings it up, say, "Can we talk about this on Tuesday at lunch?" That way, you can at least get most of the week off of her complaining.
posted by callmejay at 10:43 AM on January 25, 2006

Brutally honest people are also brutally honest about their own shortcomings. It sounds like she's not.
posted by desuetude at 10:46 AM on January 25, 2006

you should definitely bring this up. but you also need to be ready to decide if shes not able/willing to change, will it be worth dealing with her for the long haul.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 11:26 AM on January 25, 2006

Everyone who says ‘get out’ or ‘get her out’ is right but if that is not a possibility I would seriously recommend some kind of assertiveness training. I know so called ‘shy’ people who have made a lot of progress with good old-fashioned self-defence training. Letting someone kick you around the office under the banner of ‘introversion’ means she's a bad person but in another way it is just as much your problem. Those people are everywhere and they will kick anyone who will let them. If you were an underling and had coworkers dealing with the same kind of person, unionization would be the obvious thing to consider - as you're her business partner you are responsible and seriously need to put your ahead above the wall to stop this.
posted by anglophiliated at 11:45 AM on January 25, 2006

Ok. So what makes her "brutally honesty" means she's right and you're wrong.

People who are 'brutally honest', use this bullshit excuse to forcefully give their opinion.

You're going to need to sit down with your partner and decide who is in control about what. Not everything is her domain, not everything is yours. But, you must assert that there are times where you are "right"....and there is such a thing as difference of opinion (yes, even in business.) I'd strong suggest that you work to your strengths...and you sound like you have a GOOD DEAL of tact - believing in the best of people.

It's likely that she'll disagree. She likes the way things are - she out talk you, she'll end run, put you down (all are unacceptable behaviors). If you're 'both' in charge, then you both have equal responsiblity - and she'll have to learn to share. That's likely some of her faults.

She'll out talk you...but some things are *your domain*, not hers, and she'll need to learn that the bull method doesn't work with your things. It's a business - a combination of skills (SOME THAT SHE DOES NOT POSSESS) are critical.

The 'balance' of power right now sits far too much in her corner (as she's probably given you advice...and then forced it down your throat.)

Why are you tearful? Lack of tact. If your lawn is a mess and I shit on your lawn with the rationale "Well you had to clean it anyway," - that's brutal honesty.

You're upset because this balance isn't right; Make it a point to let her know that if she worked for you, she'd be fired for her lack of professionalism.

The line "I would have fired you..." is a clear indicator of "I Know Better Than You." Make sure to point out when her motor mouth goes off - that she's hurting the company (morale, customers).

I'll say it again: Nobody likes someone who is brutally honest. More bees with honey sort of analogy. Suggest (seriously!) that she sees a therapist to deal with her impulse control.

In business that "bull" in china shop makes her a bear to work with and difficult for employee retention. Neither of your should ever criticize employees except in private - In private with each other, or with only a specific employee. When you both talk about someone, you're like step parents that are not in agreement. For good business it's critical that one of you does the HR (or split the duties - she can play the bad cop.) PRAISE in public - and it's critically important that your staff hears her praise people - as they get the idea that she's just a bitch.

You're going to have to use all of your tact and perhaps a third party to talk about this.

People don't like change and they don't like to hear their wrong

On ADD and forgetfulness. You need a system. It could be as simple as a "to do list" and a ticker system. But you need some system to circumvent your own memory. Not everyone's memory is perfect - we're human beings! So you'll use some system to help you out.
posted by filmgeek at 11:51 AM on January 25, 2006

Anyone who says they want to be "brutally honest" with you is going to use you as a punching bag.

Honesty does not have to be mean. She's mean and not really your friend.
posted by fenriq at 11:59 AM on January 25, 2006

When you talk of the conversation involving employees, you speak of your friend's daughter and your friend's friend. Is this "friend" the same person as your partner?

If so, the balance of power is already lost if she's stocked the company with people connected to her. You can bet that whatever she says about you with you in the room has been repeated a hundred fold behind your back to her friends/family.

Depending on the size of your business, it may be a good idea to start courting allies of your own. This could help kibosh rumors and bitching that those close to your partner may engage in because they feel themselves untouchable. It could also help build a stable of people you could try and take with you should your partnership split ways.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:11 PM on January 25, 2006

While I agree the partner sounds overaggressive, I think some people are going overboard taking the poster's side, partly because the poster is One of Us and partly because that's the only side they're getting. Me, I would focus more on this:

...she knows that my forgetfulness is not intentional and she knows that it is something that I am working on. I try to write things down, but sometimes shit just slips through the cracks...

I don't want to come off as brutal as your friend, but it's really not that relevant whether it's intentional or whether you're "working on it." It sounds to me like you're making excuses for yourself (which is human and understandable, we all do it) and she's getting more and more fed up. However much she understands your medical situation, there's only so far you can go being tolerant and understanding when you're trying to run a business and your partner is undermining it, however unintentionally. I think before you go all confrontational you need to try really hard to see it from her point of view: imagine that you had no memory problems and someone else were doing the kinds of things that piss her off. Do this not so that you can beat yourself up about it but so that you can devote the necessary effort to overcoming it. Make notes, use a computer program, do whatever it takes so that you cut way down on the problems caused by forgetting. Then, when she sees that you're truly taking it seriously and not just going "But... but... I have ADD!" I'll bet she'll be a lot easier to live with. It doesn't sound to me like she's venting her deep hatred for you, just that she's really fed up with the situation and wants you to try harder.

I hope this doesn't sound unsympathetic; I'm very sympathetic, but I feel the need to counteract the heartwarming but possibly counterproductive wave of warm support you're getting here. If you're already doing everything you can and you're certain she's being unfair, then I'm full of shit and you should ignore me.
posted by languagehat at 12:54 PM on January 25, 2006

i certainly understand what you are saying languagehat, but if the situation is presented accurately I think it goes beyond Annon's occasional forgetfulness. The two have different management styles with one trying to override the other by verbal aggression.
Other things such as venting in front of employees, consistently bringing up the issue and such like indicated (to me at least) there is a power struggle occurring. If the 2nd party is indeed just frustrated with annon's behavior they are handling it very poorly, as someone else noted passive aggressive, at best. Even if I was not the target of such behavior but just witnessed it I would have a hard time trusting that person. the work environ must suck big time if the bosses are engaging in such activity.
posted by edgeways at 1:22 PM on January 25, 2006

Here's some inside info about brutally honest people: we often miss cues from our more subtle friends. After all, if we were better at subtle communication, we wouldn't need to be so direct, right?

There is no need for you to have a long, drawn-out debate with your partner over this. Also, I would avoid going the way of trying to make her sympathetic to your emotional turmoil, and I would avoid long explanations like you gave in your post (your post is fine, I'm not criticizing you; I'm advising you).

Here's my advice. Distill what you have to say into one terse sentence that you are willing to stand behind. If you think that you'll have trouble saying your terse sentence to your partner, or that you won't say it in a convincing tone of voice, email it.

Your sentence should not be about your feelings. It should be about the consequences of your coworker not cooperating. Exactly what she needs to stop doing should be described tersely. "You need to stop being such a bitch" will not work. "You need to stop being so inconsiderate" is bad too. Those things are subjective and, more importantly, subject to argument. Similarly, "You need to stop criticizing me" is not going to work either, because as your business partner, she has to be able to criticize you. Ask yourself exactly where the line is that she should not be able to cross; figure out how to express it, and come up with a realistic and easily-expressed consequence. The consequence does not need to be as drastic as your dissolving the partnership (but it could).
posted by bingo at 2:30 PM on January 25, 2006

Perhaps next time she goes on a tear about how you are forgetful and how she's such a saint for struggling through life with you, you can have your own little rant about how being saddled with an overbearing loudmouthed jackass.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:37 PM on January 25, 2006

I understand that you're uncomfortable with confrontation. However, you MUST talk with her about this. If you don't, she's going to keep on berating you in front of your employees, which is by no means acceptable by even the broadest interpretation of professionalism. She's going to keep on saying hurtful things in public and in private. There's a definite line between blunt honesty and just downright rude. I am one of those blunt people myself, occasionally have been called "brutally honest," but I make sure I never offer my blunt observations or opinions unless it's actually constructive. She's not doing this. She's just being a bitch.

You have to talk to her, and you have to stand up for yourself, and you have to make it clear that this kind of behavior is unacceptable and you won't be willing to put up with it any longer.

And if nothing changes after you do this, you're going to have to find a way out of the business partnership. Because you're clearly miserable, and no amount of money or success is worth spending 9 hours of your day feeling like you're walking on eggshells.
posted by Meredith at 3:27 PM on January 25, 2006

I used to pride myself on being brutally honest. Then at some point I realized that I was known as an asshole in my group of friends. A funny asshole, but still an asshole.
Being "brutally honest" is sometimes what people say when they want to absolve themselves of responsibility for how they're percieved, and how they make other people feel. I'm still working on not being an asshole.
You need to call her out on this. While my gut tells me to go the way that Optimus suggested, it might not end up being productive. But I know that I'd have a hard time not going "You want brutally honest? You're fat and you smell like mayonaise," or "Brutally honest? You're full of shit, and it's only because I'm polite that I didn't tell you to shut the fuck up right there. If I hear something like that again, I will, and you can whine all you want. It's unprofessional, it's intentionally mean, and everyone already thinks you're a bitch, so you don't have to prove it."
If she does pull it again, however, a "Shut the fuck up. I would have fired you for your 'brutal' bullshit years ago if I could," would be in order.
posted by klangklangston at 7:37 AM on January 26, 2006

I agree with everything stated above. If you really feel uncomfortable about being confrontational with this woman, perhaps writing a very pointed email to her about "the incident" and her verbal chastizing would be a good way to address the issue without having her in your face to interrupt.
posted by Ms Snit at 6:47 PM on January 28, 2006

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