A Bully: Big Ego, Small Balls?
How it all started…
I’m up by 5 AM, already planning my day, the first cup of coffee in hand. As a routine tennis player, I book my courts for the week in advance via the online system. It opens at 7 AM; every morning, I’m there on the dot.
My daughter came down for breakfast at 7:30. Over lattes and avocado toast, we discussed our daily schedules and she asked me if I had booked tennis courts for the following week. I assured her that I had reserved one for her, and one for me. We proceeded to take our regular 8 AM walk, and that’s when we heard my phone ding.
A rather odd message came from a fellow member at the club, with whom I have a friendly and working relationship. “Is it your goal to piss off every member at your last club in this town? You are succeeding.”
I was shocked. While I didn’t take offense to his rude text, I was struck by how abrupt and impolite it was. No good morning. No context. No question. I wondered why he was so upset, and while I had some idea, I didn’t want to assume. In attempts to understand, I followed up with, “What can I do for you? What pisses you off?” and tried to diffuse it with “good morning to you too” accompanied by a sunshine emoji.
No response from him ensued.
Many members play matches several nights a week. The courts fill up quickly, especially in the evenings after the midday heat subsides. There are 11 courts in total. The most popular are numbers one and two, given their prime location in proximity to the clubhouse, the bathroom, and the parking lot.
Many members organize social matches at night, without being an official facilitator or a coach. Nevertheless, in this case, he still was able to book four courts and the schedule showed that there were still courts available.
Why was he so upset? His passive-aggressive accusation took me aback, especially with a highly regarded profession in the community that relies entirely upon prudently investigating the truth and proper communication. I would have expected an assertive and respectful approach.
The Root of the Problem
Three hours passed. I wondered why he still hadn’t texted back. I was curious as to why he was upset with me, so I sent: “I am still waiting for your appropriate response.” Instantly though, he attacked: “You know what you’re doing and we all believe it’s intentional…you like to stir the pot.”