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A New Years Resolution: Smite the Rude! [Updated With Response Below]

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | December 31, 2010

No. 551

Corrine A. Tampas, a lawyer who primarily works as a consultant to other lawyers, sent me a comment on the Bitter Lawyer piece (2 down) in which she set forth her New Years resolution:  “I will be a bitch on wheels to anyone who is not nice and/or is rude in the New Year”.

She goes on to say that she has been partially responsible for the climate of incivility in her world and she is not going to tolerate it further.

Interesting response to incivility — escalate the incivility.  Will this response stop rudeness in its tracks?  Or will it cause a further escalation? On the other hand, if you meet incivility with civility, does that de-escalate the response?

The problem with politeness as a response is that it is frequently interpreted by the bully as a sign of weakness or even acquiescence.

There is, of course a solution.  The response must be delivered with measured firmness.  Words must be chosen carefully.  Eye contact must never waiver. Body language must convey strength.  You can also show that you are not intimidated by saying something clever or original. And smile.


Ms. Tampas’ Response:

It depends. While I may have written my statement in utter frustration, I do think the tone must change. The only way I know how to do it is to call someone on it much as one would do when another blurts out a racial slur.

Obviously, I am not one to swoon and get the vapors whenever I hear something not too nice. (I was a general building contractor long before I became an attorney. I’ve heard it all on more than one job site.) However, if you read my blog, you will find that I was particularly upset with the recent spat of politicians telling opponents to “man up”, “put on your man pants” and assessing whether another politician does or does not have “cajones”.

If you read my newsletter, you will find that I wrote a two page article in the Fall 2010 issue concerning a Google group of attorneys in which I am a member. Seems every August a few think it is “Flame Your Listmate” month. These few will seek a victim and are vicious.

This type of self-indulgent bitter, whiny, sarcastic, and argumentative rhetoric seems to be invading every aspect of American culture at a time when we should be hanging together. … I would not tolerate someone lighting up a cigarette and intentionally blowing smoke into my face. Why would I tolerate someone polluting my space with their vitriol?

Here is the link to my newsletter I wrote about. The article is on page 3.


CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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