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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: scrubbyfish on April 10, 2015, 12:58:04 PM

Title: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 10, 2015, 12:58:04 PM
Folks that know me already, know I've been homeless, etc. (All good now!)

However, as I push through the new-to-me steps required for independent investing, having others' errors on my accounts corrected, etc, I'm reminded of why I was so poor for so long. People are scary! Some use really crass techniques like lying, shouting, falsely accusing, walking away (stonewalling), threatening, etc. (At one point in my financial journey, someone doctored a document to back up their error.) Some people have experienced this type of behaviour from people working at agencies as "professional" as a country's tax office, welfare, medical insurer, etc.

I've been experiencing this kind of thing at the local level of my (new, big) bank.

Example:

Me: "Hi there, I see that $100 was debited by the bank. I don't know why. Can you look into this for me, please?"
Worker: [Looks around a bit.] Yeah, no, I have no idea why. Did you debit this yourself?
Me: No. It was debited by the bank. I don't have any service fees or anything in that amount, though.
W: Oh. Well, surely someone called you about it?
Me: No... Is there someone here that could give us more information?
W: [Calls to another worker.] Julie, is there anyone that could explain this debit? No? Sorry, no one can.
Me: Um... Well, $100 came out by the bank...I would need to know what that was for.
W: Yeah, sorry, I don't know.
Me: Is there anyone I could call, that would know more?
W: Yeah, no sorry, there's not.
Me: Hmmmm... What do you suggest as my next step, to figure this out?
W: Oh, I have no idea! It's so weird!

As the cycle repeats, each worker I subsequently ask gets more flustered and frustrated about not being able to resolve the weird thing, until one or more moves into straight up lying, making up little stories about how I surely took it out (even when other reps have already confirmed the bank did), getting very snappish, then literally walking away. Next level up says I should "call someone". Branch manager doesn't call back.

That's a mellow version of a lighter matter, but you get it.

Issue

So, not a matter of math or "finances", per se. I can easily cope with the logistical hassle. Where I shake is when they move into lying, dismissing, making stuff up to save face, etc.

Some people on this forum seem more "tough" than me -not mean, not rude, but able to shake more off. I'm thinking this allows them to get further ahead financially. They can set aside others' poor behaviour and keep on truckin'.

Questions:

Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: mak1277 on April 10, 2015, 01:04:08 PM
It helps me to remind myself occasionally that everyone in the world is a selfish asshole who is looking out for themselves.  Sometimes you find exceptions to this rule and you're pleasantly surprised.  Most of the time you just nod and move along.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: cavewoman on April 10, 2015, 01:09:36 PM
Good topic! I'm interested in reading the responses. 

I've not experienced abuse, but I think I expect the "professional" across the table to know more than me. I'm definitely going to work on my own assertiveness in bringing knowledge to the table.

One thing going for me is if it sounds fishy or I don't get it, I will ask questions until I do get it. This is kind of a gentle way to ferret out sketchy people. . . Almost under a guise of playing dumb. Or being dumb :)
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: okits on April 10, 2015, 01:14:31 PM
Do you know anyone good with finances who is also a tough cookie?  Ask if they are willing to come along and help with dealing with the people at the offices if you think the interaction will be less than honest or professional. Some people are super-tough by nature, love to negotiate, may even relish conflict.  They can help teach you how to handle this stuff.  Reciprocate by helping them with something you're good at.

I'm not good by nature with this stuff, but getting better with experience, confidence, and learning from dealing with difficult people in my day job.  Still, I show up super prepared, hold my ground, and stay focused on my goal.  If it was hard, though, I then go home and cry and let it ruin my day.  So don't feel alone in being thrown by this stuff.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: begood on April 10, 2015, 01:17:50 PM
I have not experienced abuse, but even so I still have a sort of fatalistic "what's going to go wrong THIS time" approach to almost everything finance-related. You and I have talked about that a little bit on my journal, where I chronicled the arduous terrain my little green plastic soldiers (the visual my brain helpfully provided) had to traverse between my bank account and a CD at PenFed. I said then that I always expect the worst and then experience a kind of euphoria when things work out the way they're supposed to.

I'm always shocked by others' poor behavior, and I can work up quite the head of righteous indignation over it. The biggest hurdle for me to overcome has been stepping up, being direct, asking for and expecting quality service, and if I don't get it, finding out who I have to talk to and what I have to do to make it happen. It's not my natural bent, so it takes some work.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: ZiziPB on April 10, 2015, 01:29:54 PM
In my case, knowledge is everything.  If I'm not sure about the answer myself, I won't speak up and I allow others to control the situation.  But knowledge helps me be assertive and not intimidated by overly aggressive behaviors of others.  I can call them out and stand my ground (or walk away if need be).   

Educate yourself as much as you can on financial matters and I'm sure it will help you become more confident about money.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: KungfuRabbit on April 10, 2015, 02:05:54 PM
I'd love to say something else, but you have to stand up and fight for yourself.

Just last week a salesmen tried to screw me out of an additional $1000. Had I not noticed and then called him out on his "mistake" he'd be $1000 richer and I'd be $1000 poorer.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: thedayisbrave on April 10, 2015, 02:10:45 PM
I've gone through similar things, not necessarily with in-my-face rude people, but moreso with people who are fake or are "big hat, no cattle."  I've found that a lot of people out there don't know shit but like to pretend they do, and it's easy to be fooled by them because I tend to take everyone at face value and believe that they are who they present themselves to be.  Not true.

This is one of my character traits that is great about attracting people - I'm kind/pleasant to everyone and "likeable."  Oftentimes that is confused with also being a pushover.  I am trying to be better about being tough, as I still tend to err on the side of giving others too much when trying to be fair.  Sometimes it leads to me wasting my time, which I hate, but I try to learn something from every situation and get smarter/quicker about being able to weed people out. 

I agree with ZiziPB - education is key. 
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 10, 2015, 02:11:57 PM
Thanks, everyone!!

I rock at noticing errors (frankly, I would say this is the source of the problem! if I didn't notice the errors, there could be no eventual clash), and I'm good at seeking resolution. Where the other party wants the same -all things honest and tickedyboo- this works just fine.

To the opening post, I've added a detailed example, and a note highlighting the aspect I struggle with.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: Louisville on April 10, 2015, 02:12:35 PM
I'd love to say something else, but you have to stand up and fight for yourself.
+1
There are people who will walk on you if they see that you'll let them get away with it. Gentle may be your nature, but sometimes you've got to deny that nature and get aggressive. It takes practice. Force yourself to do it when neccessary.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: okits on April 10, 2015, 02:23:22 PM
For that specific instance, try contacting someone at head office over the lack of response.  If that doesn't work, shaming the bank on social media "bank manager won't return my calls and FIVE employees couldn't answer a simple question about my account!" and publicly asking if there's a regulator that can help "surely the bank can't just take money from my account with no reason or explanation?"

Once resolved, can you bank elsewhere?  Such incompetent employees will get annoying very fast.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 10, 2015, 02:27:45 PM
For that specific instance, try contacting someone at head office over the lack of response.  If that doesn't work, shaming the bank on social media "bank manager won't return my calls and FIVE employees couldn't answer a simple question about my account!" and publicly asking if there's a regulator that can help "surely the bank can't just take money from my account with no reason or explanation?"

I'm working at that level now, yes, but am deeply disheartened/discouraged/sad/tearful about the latest aggressive antics (branch attempting to defend itself to that level; I wouldn't be experiencing except that I asserted myself/the issue).
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 10, 2015, 03:18:47 PM
As always happens when you guys help me think by sharing your thoughts and stories, I suddenly realize what's under this for me. Ack! It's a whole lifelong thing, the same that happened from kindergarten onward, the reason I ended up in some awful situations!

I'm trying to make friends/develop allies/find collaborators.
And I'm doing that with some people who don't want to make friends/develop allies/find collaborators, a fact which I have apparently found literally impossible to believe.

My BIG DREAM in life is that: friendship, peace, collaboration.
So, when I leave my house and head out into the world, that's what I'm aiming for, hoping for, and anticipating.
When people respond to that effort with rudeness, fury, dismissiveness, etc, I'm bewildered, shocked, stunned, confused.
My body wonders,  "Wait, how did a friendly hello followed by an innocent, genuine question bring about [the other behaviour]?"

But maybe not everyone is going out into the world aiming to make friends/develop allies/find collaborators.
If a person isn't, how do they function differently than they otherwise might?
Might they even been annoyed if Anne of Green Gables shows up across the counter?

When I find friends/allies/collaborators, I am one happy pigeon!
And I do find a lot of them (and I think that leaves me even more shocked when I find the others).

Also, I put a LOT of onus on me to prepare myself for the world. When I saw I was cracking at one job -becoming cranky and less empathetic- I resigned. I went home and rested for several months. So, for that reason too I'm shocked when I see people being at work super high-strung, making copious errors and not giving a shit, etc. When a person is functioning in stress or burn-out, I guess the choice in that case is to (a) go home and sleep for a few months, or (b) become prickly and defend oneself. I would take myself home, but that doesn't mean everyone would.

I'm starting to see all this in a different light... 

Even though some of the behaviours are abysmal, it's not personal (as I was fearing). It's a result of an entirely different life goal and an entirely different idea of what one should be allowed to "get away with" at work.

I had a very strong, direct experience of this when I was about 13 years old. It impacted me deeply, and I've wondered about it since. I think I know now.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: Exflyboy on April 10, 2015, 03:26:35 PM
For me its a matter of approach.

In your case when the first person could not give me the appropriate reason I would have switched to "hey, well then you need to refund the $100 until YOU figure out why I owe it to you".

Oh and I'm not leaving until I either get an answer or a refund... being prepared to get loud helps.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: Lis on April 10, 2015, 03:29:50 PM
I find that I'm more confident at handling these types of things over the phone. I'm tiny and adorable (if I do say so myself!), which means coming off assertive for me is rather similar to a ferocious puppy. Over the phone, I can use my 'big girl voice' as it's been dubbed, and suddenly I can be the powerhouse I need to be.

I also notice that I'm taken less seriously when I run into the bank in my jeans and t-shirt. When I've gone to the bank from work in a blazer and heels, I'm definitely noticed a bit more. Sometimes, you just have to fake it until you make it!

I very much believe you attract more bees with honey than vinegar, but after trying to be polite like you were, I would have gotten a bit firmer and demanded to speak with a manager, right now. It's never good to go flying off the handle and start yelling and cursing, but that teller you went to just sounded like an idiot. I would have called customer service after and complained about them.

When it gets nerve racking, just remember that you were right. Somehow, the bank charged you for something you did not deserve, and you were fully entitled to get that money back.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: Doulos on April 10, 2015, 03:39:22 PM
I would say, no matter what the resolution.  You need a new bank.

Stick to your optimism there.  Go to a few banks, I would suggest local credit unions myself.
Find one with friendly people who care.

Ask them these kinds of tough questions.  Like, when (not if, say when), "When I find that your bank has made an error on my account, how do your bank resolve this?"

Interview banks/credit unions, talk to managers, etc until you find those friends/allys you are looking for.

Then move your money.  If you do end up paying that $100 as a loss in a bad investment, it will probably be a good thing, reinforcing this lesson for you.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: marty998 on April 10, 2015, 05:07:10 PM
Second what Doulos said - you need a new bank. Unacceptable for a branch staff member to not know about their products.


Example:

Me: "Hi there, I see that $100 was debited by the bank. I don't know why. Can you look into this for me, please?"
Worker: [Looks around a bit.] Yeah, no, I have no idea why. Did you debit this yourself?
Me: No. It was debited by the bank. I don't have any service fees or anything in that amount, though.
W: Oh. Well, surely someone called you about it?
Me: No... Is there someone here that could give us more information?
W: [Calls to another worker.] Julie, is there anyone that could explain this debit? No? Sorry, no one can.
Me: Um... Well, $100 came out by the bank...I would need to know what that was for.
W: Yeah, sorry, I don't know.
Me: Is there anyone I could call, that would know more?
W: Yeah, no sorry, there's not.
Me: Hmmmm... What do you suggest as my next step, to figure this out?
W: Oh, I have no idea! It's so weird!

As the cycle repeats, each worker I subsequently ask gets more flustered and frustrated about not being able to resolve the weird thing, until one or more moves into straight up lying, making up little stories about how I surely took it out (even when other reps have already confirmed the bank did), getting very snappish, then literally walking away. Next level up says I should "call someone". Branch manager doesn't call back.

That's a mellow version of a lighter matter, but you get it.


Suggestion for how you should play this next time:

Them: Hi there, how are -----   Cut them off, don't give them a chance to ask how you feel, they hate asking that question anyway to the hundreds of customers that come in, and they don't care what your response is
You: Hey, how are you? This is different, nobody ever asks how they feel!
Them: Good, what do you need?
You: I've got my statement here - it says admin fee (or whatever fee). Can you tell me what it's for?   Don't mention amounts, it's not about the amount,  whether its $100 or $1 doesn't matter. 
Them: Uh I don't know, looks like you debited it...
You: Well it does say "fee", if it helps I have a list of the different types of bank fees and it looks like it matches this one (highlight it).
Them: It's not one of ours...
You: If it's not a fee then I'd like to report a fraudulent transaction. Can you give me the form to fill out for that?

The other option would be to run a trace on the funds and ask the bank to pay for it, if it turns out it was a bank fee.

If they tell you "we'll look into it", ask them to phone back the following day and get a reference number or take the name of the staff member.

Do not ever get emotional about it, and always give the impression that you can wait all day right there in the branch until you get a satisfactory answer. Make them call head office or whatever - they're there to serve you...
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: MsGuided on April 10, 2015, 08:32:05 PM

I'm trying to make friends/develop allies/find collaborators.
And I'm doing that with some people who don't want to make friends/develop allies/find collaborators, a fact which I have apparently found literally impossible to believe.

When people respond to that effort with rudeness, fury, dismissiveness, etc, I'm bewildered, shocked, stunned, confused.

But maybe not everyone is going out into the world aiming to make friends/develop allies/find collaborators.
If a person isn't, how do they function differently than they otherwise might?
Might they even been annoyed if Anne of Green Gables shows up across the counter?


Even though some of the behaviours are abysmal, it's not personal (as I was fearing). It's a result of an entirely different life goal and an entirely different idea of what one should be allowed to "get away with" at work.



I LOVE the line about people being annoyed by Anne of Green Gables!!!  Priceless....and remember, lots of people (characters) were annoyed (unbelievably) by the darling and earnest Anne!

What you wrote, and what several other commenters wrote, about experiences with rude, mean, dismissive behavior resonated with me so much. I have gone through periods where I've been very aggressive and demanding (I think b/c of feeling like the whole world would swallow me if I didn't) and it made me feel kind of evil and shaken every time. I just didn't know how else to handle things without being trampled. So, I have basically reverted to a quieter and almost pushover state. I realize it's not either/or, but I have not been able to navigate healthy assertiveness. It sounds like you are pretty good at speaking up, but just find it shocking and sad that not everyone is kind and fair and wanting to help.

I find the whole idea of asserting myself in the kind of situation you described with your bank exhausting.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 10, 2015, 08:48:17 PM
I LOVE the line about people being annoyed by Anne of Green Gables!!!  Priceless....and remember, lots of people (characters) were annoyed (unbelievably) by the darling and earnest Anne!

Yep! And I remember -reading that at around age 12- being shocked that they were, and deeply sad for the character. Even then, my gut churned about it. Why were they angry/suspicious/irritated by friendliness, by benign expressions, by statements of simple fact? I've never understood this sort of behaviour.

It sounds like you are pretty good at speaking up, but just find it shocking and sad that not everyone is kind and fair and wanting to help.

Yes, that's 100% it. And sad/shaken/frightened when they are specifically rude, lying, etc.

It's really helpful to hear that others have elements of this.

I'll see how things go with the new point person -I specifically asked for someone kind and friendly, and I'm indeed enjoying her care, compassion, empathy, manner, communications, and diligence- and take things from there.

I have checked in with some credit unions -they're not able to do all the banking I need- so I will start looking into other banks.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 10, 2015, 09:08:44 PM
Thanks, marty998!

I do ask them how they are (and I even listen for their full answer and respond to it). I also naturally behave as though I have all day, because I do, and I'm perfectly happy interacting with the different staff people (until they get weird/rude), hanging out, waiting while they look things up, etc. I did request a trace, but the bank didn't know how to read it. They had to ask me to decipher it for them, which I also thought was strange. I have no knowledge of such things, but was able to pull out the dates, the amount, etc. I do ask them to follow up with me, I have their names, they say they'll call...and then they just don't.

In this case, they acknowledged it was their debit, but simply asked me to "wait" for the money to come back. Eventually, they volunteered/acknowledged their error. It's still not corrected; it's been almost two months.

But, as crap as all that is, it's really only one example of "professionals" being weird (rude, aggressive, accusing, etc). Now I know with two companies to escalate the matter to the next level as soon as a person starts being weird. No delay. I think I've just been too patient in each case, seeking that friendly collaboration (which will never come with some people, I'm only newly understanding). I need to learn to recognize as soon as a person is being weird, and get outta dodge.

Patience -giving people time to look things up, correct an error, get back to a customer, etc- is awesome, but now I understand it's only awesome where the other party also desires a collaborative relationship. If they just want their job to be largely mindless, and to get to their coffee ASAP, then patience doesn't help. In that case, my mellow endurance just forces them to have to think, and delays their trip to the coffee machine. I need to see the early signs of disinterest/dismissal/avoidance, and immediately move up a level, repeating as required. Then they will complain that I escalated it, but in this case they're complaining about that even though I gave them two months, and many opportunities, to resolve it.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: sheepstache on April 10, 2015, 11:55:09 PM
As always happens when you guys help me think by sharing your thoughts and stories, I suddenly realize what's under this for me. Ack! It's a whole lifelong thing, the same that happened from kindergarten onward, the reason I ended up in some awful situations!

I'm trying to make friends/develop allies/find collaborators.
And I'm doing that with some people who don't want to make friends/develop allies/find collaborators, a fact which I have apparently found literally impossible to believe.


I call this the 'theory of temperament' error. You know the psychological experiments about which animals at which ages are able to understand what another animal understands? That's theory of mind*.  Theory of temperament, in my model, is understanding that other people have different temperaments and are therefore driven by different primary emotions than you are. For example, it takes a lot for me to lose my temper and yell at someone. So when I see another person yelling in anger, I think, "gee, this person has really lost their shit." Because that's what would have had to have happened for me to be doing that. But the fact is some people just feel much more anger on a daily basis or feel more comfortable expressing their anger than I do. So I have to understand that someone, most people in fact, yelling may not really be in the extreme range of anger.

*Upon perusing the wikipedia article I see it's a little involved. Here's the key example:
Quote
In the most common version of the false-belief task (often called the "'Sally-Anne' test" or "'Sally-Anne' task"), children are told or shown a story involving two characters. For example, the child is shown two dolls, Sally and Anne, who have a basket and a box, respectively. Sally also has a marble, which she places in her basket, and then leaves the room. While she is out of the room, Anne takes the marble from the basket and puts it in the box. Sally returns, and the child is then asked where Sally will look for the marble. The child passes the task if she answers that Sally will look in the basket, where she put the marble; the child fails the task if she answers that Sally will look in the box, where the child knows the marble is hidden, even though Sally cannot know this, since she did not see it hidden there. To pass the task, the child must be able to understand that anotherís mental representation of the situation is different from their own, and the child must be able to predict behavior based on that understanding.
Human children only develop this at a certain age, usually four.

Quote
But maybe not everyone is going out into the world aiming to make friends/develop allies/find collaborators.
I imagine this isn't the driving force in a lot of people! Some people have all the friends they want or they find relationships to be a drain or they've often experienced problems connecting with people and have concluded they're no good at it, etc. And many people may feel your goal is a good one, but it's not their priority. Their priority emotion may be fear of losing their job, or preoccupation with some other worry, etc.

I remember arguing with a package delivery company that had lost my company's package and the employee was explaining all about this report they had to file and how it couldn't be filed until 3 days were up. And it was poor customer service because she was focusing on her problem rather than mine, but the point it drove home to me was that she was motivated by her own problem, how to file this report, because she had internal customers as well as me (the external customer) like her boss and other departments who relied on the information she got for them.  Now obviously the structure of the company had set up this situation where she and I had very different goals. I could be nice and help her achieve her goal with the report, but at the end of the day I wasn't going to get anywhere pretending that our goals were the same. I had to do something to force helping me to be her goal. So, yes, you have to be aggressive.

But your empathy can help rather than hinder more than you'd think. Because you might get a sense (once you're honest with yourself that this person naturally cares more about their own goals than yours), of what motivates them. If it's apathy you have to make a stink, maybe give them something to get excited and gossip about. If it's fear of their boss, you can escalate but be sure to praise while doing so ("you've been so so helpful and polite, but it just doesn't seem to be in the system you can access at her level. so let's see if..."). In a lot of these situations, marty998's approach works because people respond well when a customer is mildly peeved but then something they do makes them immediately happy. They feel special and productive. Carrot and stick. Aligning your goals doesn't mean you have the same goal, it means both your goals are satisfied by the same outcome.

Spoiler: show
Did you guys know there is a spoiler alert feature now? There is.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: shelivesthedream on April 11, 2015, 02:45:53 AM
I'd second things people have said about temperaments. When I go to a bank, doctor, whatever, I want to complete the designated task as efficiently as possible, not to come away filled with warm fuzzies. Employees asking how I am today or if I have seen such and such a product drives me nuts because it's an irritating deflection from the task at hand.

I'm awful at complaining, but one thing I am good at is simplifying complex problems. This means I am good at asking awkward questions and then waiting patiently for the answer.

Her: "I just don't know what that transaction is! How weird!"
Me: "Why not?"
---awkward silence---
Her: "Well, um, I, er, I guess I don't recognise that, um, code."
Me: "It's a code put there by your bank. It must exist. Could you go and look it up?"

I do sometimes play a bit nice-but-dim as it makes people more sympathetic, but it basically involves giving them enough rope to hang themselves and admit they are wrong. "Why not?" is my favourite question as there is rarely an actual explanation.

Something I am learning to do is to get people's names and the time that you spoke to them, especially on the phone. Then, if people contradict each other:
"Rosemary told me XYZ on [date, time] and Greg told me ABC on [date, time]. One of them must be mistaken. Which is it?"
---awkward silence---

I always say "mistaken" rather than "lying" (as my friend does who taught me this) because it's kinder. But again, it's such a simple question that they cannot fail to answer without being ridiculously evasive.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: little_owl on April 11, 2015, 04:46:35 AM
What is going on with that $100 debit?  You should find a new bank!  Switch to Capital One 360 and a local credit union if you can, this sounds completely unacceptable!

In regards to your opportunity for personal growth, I like the idea of "scripting" out some lines that you want to use beforehand and, as others have suggested, bringing a trusted friend or family member (if possible) along to be a third voice.  Sometimes others can stand up for us in ways we can't ourselves, and you could learn from them.

Most importantly, don't let yourself get cheated!  If you're great at catching errors....then keep on catching them, it is astonishing how so many people do not look at important things like...bank and credit card statements!  Yikes!
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 11, 2015, 07:15:37 AM
I call this the 'theory of temperament' error.

Excellent, sheepstache!

Once, I'd moved to a new area. Out on a walk, passing one house I thought there was risk of domestic violence because I could hear neighbours yelling. But then that was true at the next house...and the next house...  I learned I had moved into a neighbourhood primarily inhabited by people of a culture in which yelling was normal, and not at all an indication of stress, never mind impending violence! That was big learning for me.

...it was poor customer service because she was focusing on her problem rather than mine, but the point it drove home to me was that she was motivated by her own problem, how to file this report, because she had internal customers as well as me (the external customer) like her boss and other departments

I think this is a biggie in my situations. In one organization, the frontline worker spent several minutes trying to talk me out of participating in a program I was legally required to participate in...because of the forms she and her colleagues would have to do! Many of these are system problems. If the workers feel exhausted at the very thought of trying to locate a package or trace a debit, or at the thought of filling in forms, I think neither the worker nor the customer is a "problem", but that the system is. I try to focus on the system, using its available steps to move through the system, rather than worry about one worker, implementing just what you said here: If it's fear of their boss, you can escalate but be sure to praise while doing so ("you've been so so helpful and polite, but it just doesn't seem to be in the system you can access at her level. so let's see if...").

But your empathy can help rather than hinder more than you'd think. Because you might get a sense (once you're honest with yourself that this person naturally cares more about their own goals than yours), of what motivates them.[...] Aligning your goals doesn't mean you have the same goal, it means both your goals are satisfied by the same outcome.

I really like this.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 11, 2015, 07:31:31 AM
I'd second things people have said about temperaments. When I go to a bank, doctor, whatever, I want to complete the designated task as efficiently as possible, not to come away filled with warm fuzzies.

Also helpful! Until this conversation, it had never occurred to me that people wouldn't want/care about warm fuzzies as they go about their day. I'm very efficient, and can have my "introvert face" on in completing an intensive task or if I have limited time, enough that some people complain about it in me. But for an initial, light introduction or question, I'm all about the fuzz. I assume that if $100 is missing, we can all be friendly about it while we look into it together. We can all give the benefit of the doubt. Hell, we can even have a good time with it!

...I am good at asking awkward questions and then waiting patiently for the answer.

What you describe here sounds very much like me: asking the question straight up, pushing for an actual answer, waiting silently for the answer, assuming and saying "mistake" or "error" (at that stage I don't think anyone has lied), knowing the names/dates/times and referencing those, etc.

The catch is after the awkward silence, or similar critical juncture. They get flustered and frustrated because I actually want an answer and they can't give me one. For some reason, some systems are set up so that the representative can't find their way out. They don't have the authority to look into it, and they aren't allowed (?) to refer me to someone who knows. They seem to flip that outward, and immediately. The moment after the awkward silence, or the "hmmmm... Who can find out for us?" is where they lose it.

But again, this is where I'm newly believing my (other) error is to have continued asking frontline workers (and local managers) for help, rather than escalating it after the first one didn't provide any. This meant that more workers experienced that system frustration, and I experienced more worker angst.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 11, 2015, 07:45:35 AM
What is going on with that $100 debit?

It's more than $100 -that was just an example- but it's been escalated to people that can do stuff. After going through this crap for two months, in one day I had seven pages of documentation -traces, written notes, etc. I receive communications at least daily from my point person at the new level.

No Capital360, I'm in Canada :)    The local credit unions can't do it, so my options are the four other "big banks".

Yep, I've made a fair amount of money (at least $6000, unless we count another biggie for $40,000) finding errors and insisting they be resolved, but it becomes this kind of unfriendliness, which I don't like at all. I think catching errors -or even ensuring accuracy in documentation, etc- pisses some people off. i.e., I'm learning that some people are friendly, fuzzy, and polite only until an error is noted in which case some become very crabby. (Others are friendly, fuzzy, and polite not even initially, which is also yucky to me.) It seems to be a rare breed that can remain calm, peaceful, happy, kind even while an error at their end is being explored. Again, one of my errors was assuming that the reverse would be true: that most professionals would be calm, peaceful, happy, kind even while an error at their company's end is being explored. Is this what you guys find?!?!?
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: arebelspy on April 11, 2015, 08:08:46 AM
This is a weird situation.

I almost never have people in that situation be rude, let alone multiple.  To have other people come over, get rude, then someone else, do the same thing, etc.

There might be something in the way you're presenting it--I know you think you're being nice, and it sounds like you're starting off that way, but you still may want to consider you actions.  To have it keep happening is the odd part.  Some people have a bad day, and that explains maybe one clerk, but multiple?  Very odd.

I definitely wouldn't be rude, cutting them off, like marty suggested.  Being assertive and being rude are completely different things.

I did really like his suggestion of reporting it as fraudulent.  Banks have an inquiry process to look into transactions, but it does usually take awhile.  If you've called and tried that, go in again, inquire about it, mention how it isn't fixed, etc.  (They often credit that amount while it's under investigation, also.)  And then if they can't tell, tell them it's fraudulent and you'd like to report it as fraudulent.  That should either get their attention, or get the paperwork filed for it that the back end people will see and deal with.

Does this happen often enough in your life to be an issue, besides this one instance?  It sounds like it does?
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 11, 2015, 09:12:24 AM
In terms of process, it sounds like we're all on the same page: be assertive, move up quickly. The latter is what I failed to do, and why it became more problematic than it needed to be. (i.e., three more frontline workers had to experience their frustration in not being able to resolve the matter I was bringing.) In one round, the worker looked up the relevant policy, applied it, we thought we'd gotten to the bottom of things, we were both perfectly happy...and then another department shit on her and demanded she undo it, so she was in tears (as was I). She was in a no-win position. She couldn't serve me, and she couldn't satisfy her boss.

In another case, the worker thanked me for voicing the concerns "patiently and clearly" on a recorded call, so that he could forward them. He said it was very hard for them as frontline workers to be hearing all the customers' frustrations, and then not being believed by their bosses, thus being left to simply continue hearing things they could do nothing about.

Does this happen often enough in your life to be an issue, besides this one instance?  It sounds like it does?

No, thankfully I don't have this problem (more crabby people than friendly people) in general. I experience far more kind, friendly, competent people than the reverse.

The three things in these scenarios consistent to me are:
...you still may want to consider you actions.

Yes. I intended the thread to be about my role in this. Because I was already doing the patience, assertiveness, etc, I was moving on to: What do I need to do to not feel scared/devastated? What can I do to limit the amount of unprofessionalism I'm exposed to? What can I do to keep progressing financially if I feel intimidated by workers, if simple rudeness makes me want to quit? (I am sitting on three uncashed cheques at the moment, because I can't bear to go through this again. However, the higher-up is working to clarify what happened, what the departments are doing, how the errors can be prevented, etc. When the processes are sorted out, I will feel okay depositing them.)

The answers to those, besides what I've already been doing successfully, seem to be:
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: arebelspy on April 11, 2015, 09:13:23 AM
Good action steps.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: The Great Dane on April 11, 2015, 09:46:06 AM
I'd second things people have said about temperaments. When I go to a bank, doctor, whatever, I want to complete the designated task as efficiently as possible, not to come away filled with warm fuzzies. Employees asking how I am today or if I have seen such and such a product drives me nuts because it's an irritating deflection from the task at hand.

I'm awful at complaining, but one thing I am good at is simplifying complex problems. This means I am good at asking awkward questions and then waiting patiently for the answer.

Her: "I just don't know what that transaction is! How weird!"
Me: "Why not?"
---awkward silence---
Her: "Well, um, I, er, I guess I don't recognise that, um, code."
Me: "It's a code put there by your bank. It must exist. Could you go and look it up?"

I do sometimes play a bit nice-but-dim as it makes people more sympathetic, but it basically involves giving them enough rope to hang themselves and admit they are wrong. "Why not?" is my favourite question as there is rarely an actual explanation.

Something I am learning to do is to get people's names and the time that you spoke to them, especially on the phone. Then, if people contradict each other:
"Rosemary told me XYZ on [date, time] and Greg told me ABC on [date, time]. One of them must be mistaken. Which is it?"
---awkward silence---

I always say "mistaken" rather than "lying" (as my friend does who taught me this) because it's kinder. But again, it's such a simple question that they cannot fail to answer without being ridiculously evasive.

This is AWESOME and the opposite of how I normally operate.  I am like you @scrubbyfish and tend to look for friendship, love, warmth, good will, honesty and integrity in most of my dealing and get emotional or upset when it does not happen. I have a hard time with confrontation (and have also experienced abuse in the past).  After reading this, I think it is probably relevant with regards to my cancer and treatment (or lack of) as well.  I am having a terrible time with my primary care doctor, but may not be assertive enough to get it resolved.  When I asked for a referral to get a second opinion, my doctor actually yelled at me, told me if I didn't trust him then to find another doctor and then hung up on me. Perhaps someone who hasn't been abused in the past would have handled this head on.  I on the other hand am calling different agencies trying to help me get a second opinion instead of confronting the doctor. I still don't have a second opinion. I really wish to use some of the tactics used in this post. On the financial end, I probably let more things slide than having to deal with them (confrontation) but I am looking to change that as well.  This has really been eye-opening.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 11, 2015, 10:07:45 AM
Ah, The Great Dane, do you know how relieving and helpful it is for me when I hear someone else experiences the same??? So much shame dissipates. I am not awful or crazy for seeking these things, or for being devastated when the opposite happens. Aaaaahhhh...   Thank you.

I think a value in any thread is that many of us learn from it. I can be pretty sure that when I post something that's really niggling at me, someone else -whether they post or not- is going to gain something from the conversation. A realization, an action step, something transferable. What you described with your cancer doctor is exactly the kind of thing I've experienced. It's weird, it's frightening, it's stressful. And we just know it's not "supposed to" happen!

I remain curious about how past abuse colours our ability to stand up or move up or move forward. Some of us see behaviours, are reminded, and freeze.

During the course of this thread, I remembered that in the most recent bank transaction, the teller was wiggy before/when I arrived! On one level, I sure knew she was being strange -super loud, gesticulating wildly, talking over me, asking me a question then immediately cutting me off. Loud, abrupt, abrasive. Why are the customers across the room able to hear my banking? Entirely inappropriate for personal banking. I was confused, bewildered, disappointed, but wasn't thinking anything like, "Oh, there is something kinda wrong with this lady right now. I will ask to be with the teller who already knows my stuff and who is lovely." I noticed her strange behaviour, yet tried to do a transaction with her anyway. This shocks me now. I noticed, yet I stayed. I need to train myself to skip any person exhibiting those stress behaviours. Somehow, I am overlooking these early signals of trouble, and trying to work with someone who is not truly "available". They are super hungry, or tired, or just got some really bad news, or they hate their job, or their blood sugar has dipped, or they didn't receive training and they feel incompetent and fear they're about to get fired, or something.

If any of the tips in this thread can help you navigate your cancer treatment more efficiently and more happily, I will be so glad!
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: little_owl on April 11, 2015, 10:08:36 AM
Dang, scrubby you need to start a side gig finding errors for others!!!

My *hope* is always to encounter another friendly, eager to serve customer service representative....this is only sometimes true.

(Side note...I had an issue with my Wells Fargo visa card yesterday and the customer service rep was AWESOME...so it happens!)

Anyway...I also do the "kill them with kindness, be direct" approach when I'm getting stuck.  The main thing is, don't let these folks beat you down OR screw you out of your money! 
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 11, 2015, 10:24:31 AM
Dang, scrubby you need to start a side gig finding errors for others!!!

I wish!!!! lol, that would be my dream job! (As long as I didn't then have to interact with defensive people about it.)

If I were the banks, etc, I would totally hire me to find the errors in math, systems, etc. Then we could fix them and everyone's life would be easier and happier! That's what makes sense to me.

As it is, I have made lots of money finding errors in my transactions, and I've helped a very large number of people resolve errors in theirs. That's made me happy. (Doing it for others is easier, because when the erring party knows they're dealing with a third person, they get professional. Again, my poor move here was to not move up sooner, because getting a higher-up dealing with their reps can be similar in effect.)

I do urge others, too, to find and resolve theirs, but most balk. I can totally understand why! So many of us are exhausted and drained if the other makes a math error some sort of personal conflict. We're just not up for it. But that's a LOT of people losing a LOT of money because we're shy, or conflict-avoidant, or don't want to believe that these mistakes are being made, etc. That $40,000 error I found and had repaired? To this day I'm so glad I got the money back, but also remain emotionally pained -feeling residual fear and shame- about standing up, about pushing for it...because the people who had tried to keep it seemed crabby that I did.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: shelivesthedream on April 11, 2015, 03:35:49 PM
scrubbyfish + The Great Dane: I too am learning a lot from this thread! One thing I am bad at is thinking myself into other people's shoes - I tend to assume everyone is the same as me (INTJ describes me fairly well) until something happens to specifically demonstrate otherwise, and then I am really surprised. I find it impossible to wrap my head around the idea that warm fuzzies are a desirable part of functional tasks. I am sitting here trying really hard to think about why and how that would be the case but it's just not working!

I know 'customer service' is a thing, but to me that means completing what I want to do with the least amount of time/effort on my part, not being made to feel 'valued' while doing it. I know the company doesn't value me as an individual. How could they? I also don't want a 'relationship' with someone from whom I am trying to exact a particular product or service. I would just like the product or service.

I was in a shop today and the till assistant asked me how my day was going. There was a pause while my brain computed why on earth she had asked that instead of just ringing up my purchase silently, then I said "Fine, thank you".

I am aware that I am not "normal" in this regard (perhaps "average" would be a better word?) and so I am doomed to transactional frustration for all eternity. I just don't get why warm fuzzies and getting stuff done are supposed to come from the same place. That seems insanely complex and unachievable! My warm fuzzies come from friends, not corporations.

So it's a real revelation to have this glimpse inside your minds!

To return to the problem at hand: the trick is to continue with the questions, not to stop when they say they don't know. And to be a bit literal.

The best sequence is:
"I don't know."
"Why not?"

Or

"What are you going to do about it?"

It (rather cruelly but effectively) implies that they are inadequate at their job, which means they have to fetch someone else or allow you to do the thing you want.

You also have to know what you actually want, and state it straight up if you can. "Hello. I have this £100 debited from my account which I didn't authorise so I'd like it refunded, please." Do the legwork for them in suggesting a solution - don't make them guess. Be helpful, if you will!
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 11, 2015, 03:59:59 PM
I know 'customer service' is a thing, but to me that means completing what I want to do with the least amount of time/effort on my part, not being made to feel 'valued' while doing it. I know the company doesn't value me as an individual. How could they? I also don't want a 'relationship' with someone from whom I am trying to exact a particular product or service. I would just like the product or service.

:)  It's fun, realizing how the different brains/bodies work!

For my part, I can't imagine not valuing any person as an individual, regardless of where I work, but this is probably why I've worked primarily in social services (though the reverse isn't true; not all people working in social services value each person as an individual). I don't hope for warmth from Corporations; I do hope for it from people who work at Corporations.

However, while I certainly do appreciate and enjoy warmth, peacefulness, etc, I would be entirely and utterly satisfied with receiving the product or service. That wouldn't be as much fun for me, but it would absolutely suffice.

The question remains: What is the effective, in-the-moment response to, say, one's primary physician not referring out for a second opinion and instead yelling, telling the patient that if she doesn't trust him then to find another doctor, and then hanging up on her? Or: Not answering with a repeated "I don't know", and eventually wandering off to find out (oh, how I wish that's what was happening!) as the person in your example does, but rather with anger, making things up, an outright lie/misinformation and standing by that, etc?
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: arebelspy on April 11, 2015, 04:52:53 PM
I tend to phrase it as if they're on my team.  "What can we do about it?"  "How can we fix this?"  etc.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: Kriegsspiel on April 11, 2015, 07:16:17 PM
(http://i.imgur.com/W0ACH1J.jpg)
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: DoubleDown on April 13, 2015, 11:17:21 AM
I tend to phrase it as if they're on my team.  "What can we do about it?"  "How can we fix this?"  etc.

+1. This approach works wonders.

Just to add to it, I find it also helps to lead off with something like, "I've got an issue here and I need your help fixing it," then describe the issue, then follow with Arebelspy's phrase of, "How can we fix this?" etc.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: HazelStone on April 13, 2015, 11:37:47 AM
Basic Framework:

THIS is what's wrong.
HERE is how it should be (if known- backed up with documentation if possible). Tell them what solution you are looking for.
Be sure to note and USE the name of the CSR speaking with you. If current CSR can't fix it, say that this is unacceptable and have them give you name and contact info of who can, and transfer you there.
If they refuse to fix it or escalate your issue, invoke the wrath of the appropriate regulatory authority, or upper management, or both.

Always take down the name of the person you deal with, make notes, save emails and send confirmation emails when possible.
Be sure to thank the person who fixed the issue for you- it's not necessarily their direct fault that you have a specific problem.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 13, 2015, 11:56:38 AM
+1. This approach works wonders.

Just to add to it, I find it also helps to lead off with something like, "I've got an issue here and I need your help fixing it," then describe the issue, then follow with Arebelspy's phrase of, "How can we fix this?" etc.

Yep, I swear to you guys I do this. These are all among the approaches that I do, consistently. (Or are you saying that, "I've got an issue here and I need your help fixing it," makes all the difference from, "There's a debit on my account, and I don't know why. Can you help me with this?") The approach I'm taking works in the vast, vast majority of interactions.

The question really is, what happens in the irregular cases when the teller in that picture up there replies just as consistently and non-progressively with a loop like:

"I don't know."
"Well, I don't know and there's no way I can find out, and no, there's no one you can talk to about it."
"Yeah, no, it's just weird. Huh, wow. Well, is there anything else you need today?"
"Well, you MUST have debited it from your account! We don't just take money out. We have to have a reason."
"Well, if we took it out, then a cheque you deposited must have bounced."
"I'm sorry, my break started two minutes ago, so I need to close my wicket now. Maybe someone else will know?"

Last week's question was answered with, "We can't have done that. You must have coded the account."
(I coded my bank account?!?!? I said calmly, "No, I'm definitely not able to code your bank's system. Is there someone here that might be able to help us with this?")

Or, The Great Dane's example was more extreme and might paint the picture better.

How do YOU not FEEL ANGST/DISTRESS/FRUSTRATION/SADNESS when you bump into a person doing such behaviour, sharply or in a loop? How do you keep their silliness out of your brain/body, feel happy, and have energy and confidence left over to go up a level?

Today I'm thinking of carrying a printout of that dog picture in my pocket when I go places, and squeeze it when I see a person doing this. That will make me laugh and also remind me to get out of the loop ASAP. A pocket buzzer might keep me alert to this, too.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: Candace on April 13, 2015, 12:07:03 PM
A lot of good advice has been given in this thread.

I tend to think that if you don't want to get loud or confrontational, then the following things might be useful in short-circuiting the process:

1. Once you come across someone who is not being helpful, and neither is their supervisor, ask them for the fraud reporting form. That might get their attention.
2. Tell them that you understand that they don't know why the debit occurred, and neither do you, so you may have to get your lawyer to write the bank a letter. If you have a lawyer friend, they may do this for free.
3. Letting them know that you'll be filing a report with the Better Business Bureau could help too.

You really shouldn't have to deal with this crap. I appreciate that you want everyone to just get along (and I love Anne of Green Gables too), but when people try to trample you, they don't deserve your courtesy. Perhaps for you, the above strategies would help because then the bank knows it's not just going to be your Niceness sitting in front of them, just asking them to do the right thing. Obviously they are not interested in that. As others have said, they just want you to go away so they don't have to deal with your problem. You have to make it their problem.

I have an example from my boyfriend's life: someone got his debit card information and used it to charge about $300 worth of groceries, gas and restaurant visits. My boyfriend reported it to his bank, and they rejected the report because my boyfriend had also used his card in the same area that day. In effect, they were calling him a liar and accusing him of trying to steal from the bank! So he wrote a letter showing that he had been in a specific location at a specific time that day (a sign-in was required), and so it would have been physically impossible for him to also have been at the places where the card information was used fraudulently. Happily for him, he is a lawyer and also hates banks and insurance companies. He won't let them get away with this. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Good luck! And please, please, try to minimize the stress and unhappiness this causes you.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: arebelspy on April 13, 2015, 02:00:15 PM
How do YOU not FEEL ANGST/DISTRESS/FRUSTRATION/SADNESS when you bump into a person doing such behaviour, sharply or in a loop? How do you keep their silliness out of your brain/body, feel happy, and have energy and confidence left over to go up a level?

Ah hah!

*light bulb moment*

So here's the thing.  Your question isn't about customer service.  It's about yourself, and your feelings and attitudes.

And you were trying to express that all along, I just didn't get it.

So here's my answer to that: Think about what you can control.  Don't worry about what you can't.

Traffic?  Out of your hands. Why get frustrated at traffic?

Person not helping you, even being rude, when they're supposed to be helpful customer service?  All you can do is smile and shrug.

Look into some of the stoic works for good techniques on this.

But ultimately it boils down with not being concerned with things you can't control (and this includes everything having to do with another person).

You're doing all the techniques to try and get the person on your side, and it usually works.  But when it doesn't, you're getting upset.  You need to work on you.  Not on what you're doing in that interaction, which sounds fine, but on what you're doing internally when it doesn't go well.

Work on shrugging things off.

I'm guessing you probably get upset when it feels like someone insults you?  Even if you know you shouldn't care about their opinion?

Most people do.  But work to get past that.

And not give a *: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/off-topic/the-subtle-art-of-not-giving-a-fuck/

THAT'S how you deal with this:
How do YOU not FEEL ANGST/DISTRESS/FRUSTRATION/SADNESS when you bump into a person doing such behaviour, sharply or in a loop? How do you keep their silliness out of your brain/body, feel happy, and have energy and confidence left over to go up a level?

That's how you don't feel upset, or let them get to you.  Let it go.  And don't worry about it, at all.   :)

When you get upset at their actions, you're giving them power over you.  You're letting them dictate how you feel. Why would you do that?  You should be in control of your emotions, and deciding how you want to feel. 

That is the solution, IMO, to this situation.  It's a process.  It takes awhile to get there. 

But the rewards are well worth it.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: rocksinmyhead on April 13, 2015, 03:41:39 PM
I love ARS's last piece of advice re. stoicism. I am similar to you (and others who have posted here), scrubbyfish... I go through life with a default positive, friendly view of other people, and when I am treated with rudeness or anger in a situation where I expected professionalism, I am always super shocked (and sometimes I even have to choke back tears which is THE WORST). I don't even have any kind of excuse... no history of abuse or anything like that, it's just my personality. Womp womp ;)

Anyway, working on the circle of control/stoic attitude helps me. Also, just thinking to myself, "well, this is WEIRD behavior on their part," because it redirects me from thinking it's my fault somehow and also frees me from worrying about why anyone would behave in such a way. It's just weird, strange, bizarre, inexplicable, so I can write it off as such and move on. I think I got that last tactic from listening to my mom, who is a similarly sensitive soul :)
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 13, 2015, 05:11:59 PM
*light bulb moment*

So here's the thing.  Your question isn't about customer service.  It's about yourself, and your feelings and attitudes.

Beautiful!! Yes, lol! This is what I was trying to ask from the start. Thanks for totally getting it (ditto to all the others who did, too!!).

I was uncomfortable even putting that much in CAPS and bold, because of the potential repercussions. So, you can imagine how I feel speaking up at a bank.

You're doing all the techniques to try and get the person on your side, and it usually works.  But when it doesn't, you're getting upset.  You need to work on you.  Not on what you're doing in that interaction, which sounds fine, but on what you're doing internally when it doesn't go well.

EXACTLY. Again, bee-yoo-tee-ful!! Thank you.

I just came from my usual Monday therapy session. It was awesome (and said much of what you did here, and more too). I had brought to the appointment the clarity about myself that I'd gained so far from this thread, plus some of the emails and examples from the bank, plus my goal, which I wrote and stated to the counsellor as:

My goal is for my internal response to bullshit to be different than tension/distress. My goal is to feel deeply relaxed even when someone acts like a dick.

(My counsellor laughed much, celebrated the goal, then got to it.)

You nailed it, arebelspy. You heard me 100%, and your tips and pointers -like some of the others in this thread- were exactly what I was looking for. All of that combined with my therapist's support, tips, and encouragement leave me feeling like I "got this". Which at this stage just means I know what to practice from this point forward, and that's a good enough starting point for me.

rocksinmyhead, yep, you described the experience SO WELL!!!! Aaaaahhhh...
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: arebelspy on April 13, 2015, 05:41:02 PM
Awesome, I'm glad you got such clarity on your own, even if it took me awhile to get it through my thick head.  :)

It's not a light switch, unfortunately, but something that takes practice.  So you will have frustrations (at yourself) when you have these negative emotions based on other people's actions.  And then that frustrated feeling will compound it. That's okay.  It's all opportunities to practice.  :)
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: ender on April 13, 2015, 05:45:58 PM
One thing I find helpful in one-off situations like this is to keep in mind the person I'm interacting with could have had a really crappy day/week. Perhaps they recently lost a loved one. Or had a serious relationship end. Etc.

Whenever I'm in those moods, I am almost always crabbier and while it won't justify someone being rude/annoying it does help me see some perspective on such things.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: irishbear99 on April 13, 2015, 06:30:44 PM
You mention past abuse in some of your posts, and IMHO that might tie in with your response to when people are lying/pushy/unhelpful/etc. One of the insidious things about abuse is the abuser often blames the person s/he is abusing for the abuse itself. You made me feel this way. You made me do that. It's your fault I can't control myself. If you'd only do X, Y, and Z I wouldn't have to do this. Etc. So we fall into patterns where managing the other person's emotions and reactions has become our job, and the way others act becomes a reflection of our own actions. (Don't ask me how I know this...)

In the real world, each person is responsible for his/her own emotions and reactions. It really helped me to draw that boundary. If Sally or John or Customer Service Rep lies to me, or gets pushy, or is unhelpful, that is not a reflection on me. It is not about me, but about Sally or John or Customer Service Rep. I am not responsible for anyone else's actions but my own. Understanding this has helped me greatly with not getting emotional when I encounter some of the behaviors you mentioned. Just remember, each person's behavior is a reflection on them, not you.

ETA: I just went back and realized you didn't mention abuse in your posts; that was mentioned by a couple of other people. Still, I hope the perspective of understanding other people are responsible for their behavior will help with the emotional aspect of dealing with people who are misbehaving.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: sheepstache on April 13, 2015, 06:48:17 PM
I think what you might be talking about too is feeling a fear response, just from your own assertiveness, before they even respond. This makes sense on a primitive level. If you just pissed someone or something off, you'd better be ready for flight or fight.

But don't forget that what comes off, to you, as very aggressive, because you have a mild, friendly temperament, may not seem that way to someone else with a temperament naturally more bent towards aggression. In your mind, you're really pissed off and angry if you've gotten to the point that you're saying, "I'm going to have to speak to a manager." But to the customer service person, you may come off as merely firm and assertive.

To train your nervous system to accept that other beasts on this planet have thicker skin than you do, you just have to escalate your manner bit by bit over time. As you get the feedback that people are not deeply offended or frightened by your manner, your brain will adjust.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: vagon on April 13, 2015, 07:20:24 PM
On a practical note I would ask for the banks complaint policy.
There's usually a formal process in place for escalation beyond the front line staff.

In my view customer service often functions as a first filter between having reimbursements like this paid out. The second level complaints department may also act in this manner, but there should always be an escalation point. If they are not providing you with one I would threaten to go to an external regulator. If that fails I would actually go to the external regulator and write an email to the branch manager, CEO, chairman, local newspaper in that order.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: Carless on April 13, 2015, 07:26:18 PM
The question remains: What is the effective, in-the-moment response to, say, one's primary physician not referring out for a second opinion and instead yelling, telling the patient that if she doesn't trust him then to find another doctor, and then hanging up on her? Or: Not answering with a repeated "I don't know", and eventually wandering off to find out (oh, how I wish that's what was happening!) as the person in your example does, but rather with anger, making things up, an outright lie/misinformation and standing by that, etc?

After the fact, the response is to get a new doctor and ask them to have your records transferred so you don't have to deal with this completely unreasonable person.

In the moment here's a great line to use with a doctor, lawyer or engineer;  "You are not behaving in a professional manner".  This should also be effective with many other individuals and here's why;  often these people are subject to a code of conduct that includes specific direction of what they must and must not do.  It is not optional.  Violations of it are called 'Professional misconduct' and can make you subject to fines, or expulsion from your profession in serious cases.   You are reminding them of this (hopefully). 

If this gentle reminder doesn't help, then you can contact the appropriate board and report their poor behaviour.  Don't think about it as 'being mean' or 'punishing them'.  What you are doing is notifying the complaints board that they have a member of their professional association who is acting in a manner that reflects badly on everyone else.  You are letting them know that there is an issue so that they can deal with this before it gets worse.  What if the next person who deals with this unprofessional person is even less able to stand up for themselves? 
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 14, 2015, 10:48:26 AM
It's not a light switch, unfortunately, but something that takes practice.  So you will have frustrations (at yourself) when you have these negative emotions based on other people's actions.  And then that frustrated feeling will compound it. That's okay.  It's all opportunities to practice.  :)

Yes. Although I still feel a bit assertiveness-fatigued at the moment, I'm also super excited about upcoming "opportunities to practice". (It's that, or allow other people's moods, behaviour, laziness, and/or greed return me to poverty! My past examples of that would make one's head spin. It does mine.)

I did one practice session this morning, and have booked two more opportunities for the upcoming week :)

One thing I find helpful in one-off situations like this is to keep in mind the person I'm interacting with could have had a really crappy day/week. Perhaps they recently lost a loved one. Or had a serious relationship end. Etc.

Definitely, yes. Though, I think I might lean too far in that direction (i.e., My thinking this way leaves me making LOTS of room for a person's poor behaviour, and choosing to interact with them regardless of it. It's only the second aspect of those, though, that I need to change.)
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 14, 2015, 10:56:37 AM
You mention past abuse in some of your posts, and IMHO that might tie in with your response to when people are lying/pushy/unhelpful/etc. One of the insidious things about abuse is the abuser often blames the person s/he is abusing for the abuse itself. You made me feel this way. You made me do that. It's your fault I can't control myself. If you'd only do X, Y, and Z I wouldn't have to do this. Etc. So we fall into patterns where managing the other person's emotions and reactions has become our job, and the way others act becomes a reflection of our own actions. (Don't ask me how I know this...)

In the real world, each person is responsible for his/her own emotions and reactions. It really helped me to draw that boundary. If Sally or John or Customer Service Rep lies to me, or gets pushy, or is unhelpful, that is not a reflection on me. It is not about me, but about Sally or John or Customer Service Rep. I am not responsible for anyone else's actions but my own. Understanding this has helped me greatly with not getting emotional when I encounter some of the behaviors you mentioned. Just remember, each person's behavior is a reflection on them, not you.


You were correct, irishbear99, I have mentioned abuse and referenced it generally in the opening of this thread.

Without getting into abuse, even, my counsellor reflected much of the above: that their presentation is a reflection only of them, not about me, and that only they are responsible for theirs. But also that, yes, when people behave poorly, I do hear that "old tape" that it's my fault, I did something wrong to make them behave like this, if I can just behave exactlyunbelieveablycarefully then they won't have a mini-fit. This is inaccurate, though. Some people will have a mini-fit regardless of who we are and how we behave. They will have a mini-fit because of where they are at, how they are feeling. They are the only ones that can shift that.

It's an erroneous belief I carry that if we are kind, gentle, and patient, other people will take that opportunity/environment to breathe, relax, heal, get present. I do that when people are kind, gentle and patient with me, but that doesn't mean everyone has this response. Some will continue feeling shitty and expressing that outwardly -some may even feel further irritated by kindness, etc.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 14, 2015, 11:02:42 AM
To train your nervous system to accept that other beasts on this planet have thicker skin than you do, you just have to escalate your manner bit by bit over time. As you get the feedback that people are not deeply offended or frightened by your manner, your brain will adjust.

sheepstache, you too have accurately identified elements! Thank you. I feel fear even knowing I may need to stand up for myself. That's already one internal stress point.

I LOVE this perspective re: how I might fear I'm coming off to strong for my taste, when really it's simply that any degree more than my norm, more than my natural comfort level, will inherently feel uncomfortable to me.

I also really like that very specific tip re: approach. Increase my manner one increment per stage, allow my body to see that everything was okay, let my nervous system adjust to that new level of activity, then go the next increment up.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 14, 2015, 11:05:55 AM
On a practical note I would ask for the banks complaint policy.
There's usually a formal process in place for escalation beyond the front line staff.

Yeah, in terms of the bank example, I started with frontline, then one level up, then branch manager, and then some formal level (which I had to locate independently) they have after that. For the practical resolutions, I'm working at that level now.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 14, 2015, 11:24:24 AM
After the fact, the response is to get a new doctor and ask them to have your records transferred so you don't have to deal with this completely unreasonable person.

In the moment here's a great line to use with a doctor, lawyer or engineer;  "You are not behaving in a professional manner".  This should also be effective with many other individuals and here's why;  often these people are subject to a code of conduct that includes specific direction of what they must and must not do.  It is not optional.  Violations of it are called 'Professional misconduct' and can make you subject to fines, or expulsion from your profession in serious cases.   You are reminding them of this (hopefully). 

If this gentle reminder doesn't help, then you can contact the appropriate board and report their poor behaviour.  Don't think about it as 'being mean' or 'punishing them'.  What you are doing is notifying the complaints board that they have a member of their professional association who is acting in a manner that reflects badly on everyone else.  You are letting them know that there is an issue so that they can deal with this before it gets worse.  What if the next person who deals with this unprofessional person is even less able to stand up for themselves?

Carless, those are all excellent avenues. You also recognized a key piece when you said "don't think of this as being mean or punishing them." Part of what stalls me is that I "don't want to get people in trouble". Granted, I also like to give people time and space to sort things out, but if they don't, I don't want my issue/experience to make their job suck. Which goes back to me caring too much about the other person's experience: "they know they screwed up and are really afraid of getting in trouble"; or "they must be having a really awful week to behave like that." I genuinely worry for the branch manager, and each of the staff people, should any be reprimanded, or even have these errors brought to light. In my mind, I see them feeling embarrassed or sad and going home and having a crappy evening.

In typing this, I now see that I'm also assuming their boss is a jerk and doesn't supervise well.

Once, when I got bad at my job, a client called in to my supervisor. She wasn't mean. According to the supervisor, the client said something to the effect of, "scrubbyfish isn't herself these days. Something's up. She's suddenly snappish.  This is very out of character, and I'm worried for her." My supervisor called me in, and very compassionately explained this and asked if anything was happening for me. Uh, YEP. Turns out, it was the beginning of my first major breakdown! I was offered a three-month break (leave of absence) with guarantee of my job. I never managed to go back -it was intensive caregiving work with no daily support. But that client was right to call in, and she did me a HUGE favour.

The branch worker whose behaviour prompted this thread had very clear signals of being burnt out or otherwise not a-okay. Maybe she needs me to pay it forward :)

In this branch at this bank, I'm seeing multiple issues. Something is wrong. Workers are distracted, frazzled, tense. None have any idea how to resolve a basic issue, who to reach out to when they can't, or who to direct the customer to. This points at a system problem, or a hiring or training problem, or a branch-level management problem. When I speak up, this can help resolve those (if the responsible team members actually want things to be awesome for everyone, like the supervisor at my job did).
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 14, 2015, 11:43:24 AM
Aware that others are following this thread to facilitate the same shift in themselves and their experiences that I'm aiming to shift in me and mine:

My counsellor gave me tips from an additional angle, from the angle of my general sensitivity to what's going on for other people, and my natural nervous system response of matching that of the person across from me, etc.

As a result of this thread, and the counsellor's tips, I'm going to give myself these options at this stage:
Something I need to decide is which risk to take:

1. When I behave my normal way -open, friendly, warm, caring, honest, assertive- I gain a lot of joy. I get to know workers at various locations, we laugh lots, I feel happy and I think they do too. The risk is that sometimes I'll be shot down by people who are not (in a given moment or lifetime) into "connecting".

2. If I choose to behave more neutrally, efficiently, blandly, robotically, I might have a more consistent, even-keeled experience (less disappointed or frustrated). The risk is that I would lose the gifts that come with joyful connection.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: vagon on April 14, 2015, 11:19:34 PM
On a practical note I would ask for the banks complaint policy.
There's usually a formal process in place for escalation beyond the front line staff.

Yeah, in terms of the bank example, I started with frontline, then one level up, then branch manager, and then some formal level (which I had to locate independently) they have after that. For the practical resolutions, I'm working at that level now.

Good work and good luck!
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: NCGal on April 15, 2015, 11:23:30 AM
Scrubbyfish, thank you for sharing this experience and what you have been learning from it!

...this thread has prompted me to consider several things. First of all, I can be quite demonstrative, and yet when I think I've done everything correctly but don't get the positive outcome I think the situation deserves, and I deserve --  sometimes I wonder what's wrong with me. I think 'If this were so and so, the world would bow down for her. I have to work twice as hard at everything!' and that sort of thing. I've never been abused, etc. but my mind-trap will jump to the sort of response that makes me feel bad about myself.

That being said, in this situation, I think my reaction would have been different than anything I've read so far. I would have been so dumb-founded by the absurdity that they would not credit my account that I would almost be looking for the 'candid camera' to see who was trying to pull a trick on me. I would have escalated it up to a manager pretty quickly and point out that I put my money in their bank for them to save it for me, not to steal it from me, and that if they didn't immediately remove the fee and allow me to fill out a fraud complaint, I would go to the nearest precinct and file a police report for theft. And then I'd ask how they'd like to see that on the 6:00 news. (Can you tell I lived in NY?)

Also, I want to share something totally tangential that I don't recall sharing with anyone and it pertains to SheLivesTheDream's comments about warm fuzzies. I'm not someone who always can muster up a 'hi how are you?' and I, too, like to get to the business at hand. However sometimes you just don't realize how some trite expression of kindness can make all the difference to someone. Years ago, there was a time I went through a deep depression. The kind that makes you feel flat, like you're black and white and the rest of the world is in technicolor; where you walk down the street and everything around you feels surreal and you wish you could be light of heart like everyone else seems to be feeling. And you can't wait to get back home, close the door and shut yourself in

...Well, I was still functioning in that I took care of the responsibilities I was supposed to be taking care of and so one day I made a routine visit to the allergist's office for my weekly injections. One of the medical secretarys smiled at me when I signed in and said 'Hi how are you?'. I didn't say anything about how I was really feeling, just a 'fine and you' kind of thing, put my name on the sign-in sheet and sat down. I had seen this particular secretary many times over the years and she was always kind. She's a very reassuring kind of person, but I've never had any personal conversation with her. But let me tell you, on that particular day I almost felt like she saved my life. It's hard to explain but her comment, and her personal way, just brought me back to the here and now for a few minutes where I could center myself and at least momentarily think the world wasn't so scary.

I always wished I had thanked her because sometimes you just never know what the 'kindness of strangers' can do for someone.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 15, 2015, 11:38:39 AM
Wow, NCGal...

First, you made me laugh so much, with your thought of candid-camera and then what you would have done, lol!

I, too, am dumbfounded when a worker just does...nothing. I was already amazed that the bank had pulled out a bunch of money, and that no one had called me about it. I mean, assuming there was reason to take the money out, my take was that they were obliged to call me at the time and say what was happening, why, and the plan to sort it out. It was only because I YNAB everything that I noticed it at all, and only my pushing it that made them realize they were taking out even more than they had intended to.

But then I was blown away that when I did notice, and asked about it, they didn't care, didn't respond, didn't anything. Candid camera, indeed!

But yeah... On small kindnesses, this is why I like to function that way. I like to stop, ask a person how they are, hear their true answer, let them debrief and connect so they feel better. Because it's lovely to feel better! There's a lot of stress in the world; I believe that giving each other a few minutes as needed to debrief makes all the difference in how much violence -on any level- we see. Recently, at a grocery store I asked a cashier how she was. She said fine, but as much oomph as she'd tried to muster, she clearly wasn't. So I asked more. She paused, and started telling me exactly what was going on for her. It was awesome. As she spoke and I listened and reflected back and empathized, I saw her visibly calm and de-tense. She seemed grateful. She cheered right up. I think she was glad that someone did care. I do this in most of my interactions. Most people like/appreciate/enjoy it. Some don't. But yep, I am so grateful when people do this for me, and I absolutely feel people have saved my life (long story) several times this way. I just have to find a way to offer this without being devastated when someone functions poorly.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: Bicycle_B on April 15, 2015, 11:53:46 AM
Scrubbyfish,

It sounds like you have gotten lots of great advice, and are ready steam forward.  Best of luck!

In the spirit of moving on and focusing on positives, you've mentioned how you got back $40,000 from finding a mistake before. If the victory in that is ok to ask about - well, I'm curious how there can be a $40,000 error, and even more so about the awesome win of getting the money back.  Would you be willing to mention how you did that?

If not, I don't mean to pry.  It just seems like an extraordinary victory, and one that people on a savings blog might be interested in.  If you'd care to contribute that example, I'd be all ears.  Best of luck regardless!
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: NCGal on April 15, 2015, 11:54:00 AM
I've got one more story that I think will make you laugh, Scrubbyfish. And I don't tell this to gloat or anything but this is absolutely true. And I think the moral of this story is that when dealing with a bureaucracy, if the square peg (person) does not fit into the round hole (procedure), they just want you to go away.

OK this was also years ago and with a bank account I was closing out. Somehow when I went to withdraw the funds left in the account, they did some double transaction. I forget exactly how it worked but it was like $1100 remaining, except that two transactions posted, rather than one. So they credited me for an extra $1100. As I say I forget how it transpired because I didn't realize what happened until I went to reconcile my statement and realized their error.

I must have phoned the bank half a dozen times asking for them to review the account. The last time I phoned I finally said, -- Isn't there a "back office" you can ask to review transactions from that day, look through the back-up paperwork and find the paper trail'? And the woman on the phone said to me very nicely - "Oh yes, we can do that. But we have to charge you for that request".  I tried to explain how I wanted to give money back to them, but they would charge me for that???? OK never mind.

I kept the $1100 aside and thought for sure come April 15th, the bank's auditors would be knocking on my door for the money. But they never did.
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 15, 2015, 12:07:48 PM
I must have phoned the bank half a dozen times asking for them to review the account. The last time I phoned I finally said, -- Isn't there a "back office" you can ask to review transactions from that day, look through the back-up paperwork and find the paper trail'? And the woman on the phone said to me very nicely - "Oh yes, we can do that. But we have to charge you for that request".  I tried to explain how I wanted to give money back to them, but they would charge me for that???? OK never mind.

ohmygoodness, NCGal!! Too funny!!

This is the kind of error I come across, and whether the error's resolution is in my favour or the other party's, I aim to straighten it out. Sometimes, people make it very, very hard to straighten it out! And I always have that wondering: Surely the banks have to reconcile their statements same as I do??? So, when it comes to tax time, aren't they noticing these huge discrepancies?!? No?!? Bizarre!

And yep, a lot of my banking is very "square peg in round hole" (not because I want it to be, but because of how my real life differs from mainstream life and intersects with regulations), and it definitely seems like they'd prefer I go away. (Heck, in my detailed letter I basically asked my bank if they prefer I go away! Just to get clear on that. They said they don't.)
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: scrubbyfish on April 15, 2015, 12:31:26 PM
...you've mentioned how you got back $40,000 from finding a mistake before. If the victory in that is ok to ask about - well, I'm curious how there can be a $40,000 error, and even more so about the awesome win of getting the money back.  Would you be willing to mention how you did that?

Sure, BarrettSun. This is a question of "what is an error and what is a blatant attempt to illegally screw with a person". I like to assume anything is an error :) 

In the bigger amounts, I've seen it be either. However, in one smaller several-thousand dollar case, the overbilling error on a large project I was managing was genuine. When I located it, they absolutely acknowledged it -they were quite mortified- but then they only wanted to "refund" it via credit to their services! Um? Hang on. First of all, I definitely want my actual money back! Second, I'm really not certain about using a service that makes gigantic billing errors then doesn't refund them; it needs to be my decision about how I will spend my money in future. I noted the error, was entirely professional and peaceful and kind, and ensured it resolved correctly, but I still felt kinda bad about it, about noticing the error. I worried about the people who'd made the error getting in trouble, feeling embarrassed with their boss and team, etc.

Anyway, the $40,000 (+) one... This was probably more at the "attempt to screw" end of the spectrum. I'd put the money down on property, on a contract to purchase on specific terms. They messed up BIG -devastating the project through their negligence and mismanagement, etc- but tried to keep the money. In this case, their error was not in accidentally moving money but in applying the contract terms as well as legal standards where there is gross mismanagement. I noted the error, tried to address it directly, they disregarded me, I got a lawyer, the lawyer addressed it directly, they paid up. So, yeah, I notice errors and I will step up to resolve them, but like I said, in that case too I felt very emotionally pained in the process, and still feel some of that residually (several years after the fact).

The lesson about the practical aspects? Track all money movements; know what each item is; don't put money somewhere unless you totally understand all related laws and terms or are willing to take a risk; if your gut or eyeballs say something isn't quite right, check it out and refuse to be summarily dismissed; get help when needed.

For the emotional? Lots of therapy ;)
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: The Great Dane on April 17, 2015, 03:15:05 PM
WOW!  Can one post save your life?! I think this one has.  I am recovering from chemo this week, so I cannot write as much as I would like and to quote so many great responses to this post, but wanted to say a sincere thank you.  Especially the part about not making it about me when someone else acts in a particular way. Thanks for the reminder!
Title: Re: assertiveness/fear (in money)
Post by: arebelspy on April 17, 2015, 03:42:18 PM
Good luck with your recovery TGD.