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Discussion Starter #1
I am known as "the mean one" at work by some. I personally think "curt" would be more appropriate description but I guess I don't get to choose what people call me haha

I just want to hear stories about when people think you're mean but you actually were not (or were not trying to be). Not limited to INTJs (although it is the stereotype of NTs). Mostly just posting it here because I won't remember to check it if it's somewhere else.

TODAY'S STORY:


I am a notary and notorize for employees free of charge. I do not bring my case with me every day to work due to legal reasons and forgetfulness reasons so I request a day's notice if someone needs a notarization.

Friday someone asked if I could notarize something, I told them it would have to be next week (this week). Today said employee (who works out in the field on an irregular schedule) pops up, stares at me for a while, and says, "HI." while I'm in the middle of working on something. I ask her what she needs.

Employee: Notarize this, please.
Me: I do not have my stuff and I will not be going to get it today. We can do it tomorrow.
Employee: Oh. Well, I would have thought you would have brought it because we talked about it last week.
Me: *stops what I am working on to make very direct eye contact* Did you schedule a specific day?
Employee: *long pause* no.
Me: I don't understand how I am going to determine which day I am bringing my stuff if we haven't decided which day we're notarizing. We can do it tomorrow.
Employee: Oh. Ok.

Employee sulks away.


I personally didn't think I was mean though I admit I was irritated by her demanding behavior. I would place it at "sternly polite." Still, within my spectrum that was definitely not mean.

Let's hear your stories, ya mean ol' meanies
 

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My absolute favorite of these was back when I was doing a construction job with my father in college. He was supposed to have submitted some loan paperwork for me the day before, so I asked him about it. He hadn't. This basic exchange followed (won't claim to remember exact words):

Me: Seriously? That's idiotic. You realize you could jeopardize my enrollment now because you didn't do what you said you would, right? I could have done it for you but you volunteered - do what you say you will.

Him: [affronted look] You're being really mean! Are you about to start your period or something?

Me: [drops end of large plank we were carrying, walks home]

I thought I'd never hear the end of it.

My father requires very firm and consistent boundaries, he's lucky I can draw them - the other sister gave up already.
 

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I was in a Physics lab class working with two other folks. One of them was a man who was lazy and content to let other people do his work for him. The other was a woman who was immensely capable, but had a hard time finding her voice in our group dynamic. I ended up having to do a lot of work keeping the group moving forward.

After a couple of weeks, I lost my temper and raised my voice slightly at the fellow because he didn't bother asking me how to handle a program that I had already used extensively and wasted time getting the assistance of one of the very busy TAs. He never took his complaints to me directly, but I found out later that he had been telling people that I was domineering, when I had been busy trying to get my classmates to do their part. The lady I was working with (likely INTJ, though I am unsure since I do not remember enough of her personality to accurately type her since it was seven years ago) was just as angry as I was about his laziness, so his efforts to poison her against me didn't work.

Suffice it to say, he ended up joining someone else's group and the woman I was partnered with ended up becoming far more productive once it was down to just two and not three (somehow having more people is less effective). All in all I considered the outcome to be a good one.
 

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I actually am mean. :laughing: I agree with you about being curt, though. Most of my didn't-mean-to-be-mean moments happen because of the tone of my voice, short sentences and the dreaded "thinking" or "you're lying" face that looks like I want to burn through the other person's retina.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I actually am mean. :laughing: I agree with you about being curt, though. Most of my didn't-mean-to-be-mean moments happen because of the tone of my voice, short sentences and the dreaded "thinking" or "you're lying" face that looks like I want to burn through the other person's retina.
Yes, exactly. When I am explaining something in that "this is how it's going to be" kinda way, it is a combo of strong eye contact, deliberate tone, and explicit (as in clear... usually :laughing:) verbiage. People are either "with" it or they are offended by it. Regardless, the only thing I care about is whether or not the message was conveyed.
 

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Where to begin...

How about one time when my aunt & uncle were visiting when I was still a kid. He's a science teacher and was excitedly talking about magnets over the lunch table before musing over something he didn't understand about our planet's electromagnetic field. Having studied astronomy extensively by that point, like the little nerd I was, I offered him the answer, stated simply while smiling, believing I was being helpful. He informed me very sternly I was wrong (with no explanation) before letting out a little bristled laugh, no doubt put off by the 10 year old talking physics.

I said nothing but slipped away, letting the adults continue their conversation while I consulted my books. I returned with my oversized London Planetarium book, which seemed roughly the same size as me at the time, having no choice but to drop the hefty open book I'd been carrying against my body on the table with a thud. I then stood holding my finger to the answer before him. I still genuinely thought I was being helpful, information is a gift...

The chatter in the room died off, the vibe suddenly cooled, even before my uncle gave it a skim read. And afterwards his facial expression showed him to be very unimpressed. He acknowledged nothing but his silence spoke plainly. My INFP mother had to fuss over dishes and quickly take them away so she didn't get caught smirking. The other adults were being very stiff & awkward in the uncomfortable silence. I suddenly realized I was perceived as having done something wrong. Not that I could care, who doesn't value truth above all... it seems me skipping away, leaving my big book and ignoring their social cues proved to them that I was a meanie. My uncle never came back to visit, ever.

I guess that was my introduction to Fe. It took me a while to learn that speaking truths, which seems so natural to me, is frequently far from normal or charming or even safe. And yet, I still can't speak without being bluntly honest. Or at least I hate not being that way. And now that I'm older, with Te well developed, it isn't just which words I choose that invokes this meanie-me phenomenon, it's how I enounce those words too.

As I've described before, I once got stuck doing lab work with a couple of feeler girls. Thinking I'm helpfully moving things along/setting the pace, in addition to my usual serious/confident/efficient Te speech I added an energetic, let's-get-this-done aspect to the tone too when I said; 'you do X, you do Y, I'll do Z and then we all do B & C together'. I then paused waiting to hear what they think of my suggestion and to find out if they have a better one (to me, a 'how about...' preface was clearly implied. These negotiations at the beginning of these labs is normal).

Upon hearing my words, one girl falls back into her chair and slumps over as if she's been physically hit. The second one rushes to tend to the wounded. While the first one starts faux crying the second angrily tells me; "You can't tell us what to do!" [Thinking: well yes, you clearly prefer to be manipulated into action...] So now I'm annoyed, so I give them INTJ biting tongue/Severus Snape style (from Harry Potter): 'That. Was. MY i-dea. Do, youuu. have-one, of. Your. Own?'

They emotionally hijacked our lab time for another twenty minutes before going with my original plan. There was no shortage of meanie looks shot my way that day. After that experience I try to stay mindful of my tone, but I can't help but speak in a fairly forceful (confident/direct/efficient/not soft) way when I'm in Te 'work mode'. I also have a habit of cutting off over-talkers in a work setting, telling them to "give me actionable information". No doubt that's considered mean but not more than their time wasting imo.

The other default meanie factor is my 'INTJ face'. I thought it was just 'serious/focused' but my ISFP friend informed me just the other day that I have "resting bitch face" when out in public but the moment the door closes and I'm in private with only people I'm close with, my face becomes "child-like" -- she means open/relaxed/happy. That certainly mirrors how I feel.

So, to summarize, I'm mean in the way I'm bluntly honest/value truth above feelings. I sound mean. I even look mean apparently, lol. I don't think this list would be complete without mentioning how mean my dominant Ni is to my ISTJ father's dominant Si. Just thinking of future possibilities is rude, but to have the audacity to try new things, to default to 'yes!' when his is 'no!' -- no wonder I get death glares in the hallway. I guess a 'meanie' like me has it coming... Good thing I don't care -- but then, perhaps that's my 'meanest' quality of all; indifference. "She doesn't care!"

I think some consider us independent types 'mean' (selfish) by default without us having done anything.
 

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I’ve been told my ruthless pragmatism, excessive rigour/severity, dispassionate/impersonal perspectives and no-nonsense attitude are often interpreted as signs of meanness so I guess it happens a lot, even though it’s not (necessarily) what I intend. In fact, I’m not usually aware of that unwanted by-product.
 
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Not an NT here, but I'm frequently perceived as mean, because I don't prioritise people's feelings over the truth or over getting things done. However unless I'm asked for my opinion or something needs to be done, I prefer to stay out of conflict by keeping my thoughts to myself.

It's only when I'm asked to speak or do something that I get into trouble, because I will speak what I believe to be the truth and do what I believe needs to be done, the way it needs to be done, without considering how anybody feels about it.

A while ago at work we had a meeting to discuss how to deliver a particular project. The initial "plan" (more of an idea actually) was to deliver in stages. This was going to take too long and not provide any benefits, so my team decided to deliver in bulk instead, causing another team some inconveniences. Needless to say the representative of the other team was outraged and insisted that we stick to the original plan. I went to the drawing board and explained why the original plan is going to cause big delays for this project in addition to big workload for my team, delaying other projects as well. The response was along the lines "no, you are wrong - we agreed to do it this way, so we are doing it this way" and it was quite loud and indignant. So I offered him the marker and said "show me where I'm wrong". The response was restating our agreement and that we should abide by it. I told him "this is not how you cooperate". The meeting concluded shortly after and we did bulk delivery which worked just fine, but I could tell that my colleague was offended and felt that I've wronged him.

Another story: a few days ago my mother was asking me to help her fix her computer, because a hacker had entered and stolen her accounts. Now, I'm pretty sure nothing of the kind happened, but her email account had a terribly weak password, so I decided it was time for her to change it and a few other passwords (facebook, skype) in addition. I started going over the security procedures on phone with her and instructing her how to pick passwords that are easy to remember, but difficult to guess and brute force. After hearing "it's too complicated" one times too many, I told her: "Look, you have two options - either accept that your accounts will be used by other people or put good passwords". Her reaction? "You don't have to scold me"
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It's only when I'm asked to speak or do something that I get into trouble, because I will speak what I believe to be the truth and do what I believe needs to be done, the way it needs to be done, without considering how anybody feels about it.
This + your examples are pretty much identical to the situations where I am commonly branded a "mean person," especially the manner in which you handled them :toast:

I think when you add that challenge of "ok, show me where I am wrong" and people cannot, they feel put on the spot and embarrassed as a result. Imo they don't need to be and if they do, that is not my problem. If you're going to present an oppositional stance, be prepared to defend it. If my position were proven wrong or less than adequate, I'd only be upset with myself, if I were upset at all. More likely I would understand where I went wrong and update my approach for the future.

I also think that's partly why people think people like us are mean, sometimes. Because they feel bad and they equate that to something I've done vs the fact that their position/perspective doesn't really hold any ground. I get there is that element of how you say things that can make a difference but I'm not going to dedicate extra time/resources to rewording things to make someone else feel better, especially at work. That is not a place for feelings. Plus, I've got shit to do.
 

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If you're going to present an oppositional stance, be prepared to defend it. If my position were proven wrong or less than adequate, I'd only be upset with myself, if I were upset at all. More likely I would understand where I went wrong and update my approach for the future.
That's exactly how I see it too. You are making me a favour by proving me wrong. If I end up being embarrassed in the process it's my own fault that I allowed my ignorance to put me in such a spot and it's a lesson for the future to not be overly confident.

I also think that's partly why people think people like us are mean, sometimes. Because they feel bad and they equate that to something I've done vs the fact that their position/perspective doesn't really hold any ground. I get there is that element of how you say things that can make a difference but I'm not going to dedicate extra time/resources to rewording things to make someone else feel better, especially at work.
Yeah, I generally have the same attitude, but I'm trying to be more considerate of people's feelings and of how I choose my words. Not because I care to be liked, but because emotional conflict helps nobody. Needless to say my attempts at being more careful and considerate are clumsy.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yeah, I generally have the same attitude, but I'm trying to be more considerate of people's feelings and of how I choose my words. Not because I care to be liked, but because emotional conflict helps nobody. Needless to say my attempts at being more careful and considerate are clumsy.
For me it's different because I don't collaborate much with people - I would never be on a group project, for example. If that were the case, perhaps I might tread a little more lightly.

My position requires me to be responsible for a sizable amount of assets that a decent number of employees don't seem to understand/respect. They can be careless with the equipment and have attitudes like "it's just a machine" vs the reality of "this is an $80k machine." Due to this I am granted (or at least take with little resistance) a little extra license as far as being abrupt and making sure my position is understood. Basically, if they don't respect the machines, they will at least respect me and ideally take a moment to consider what they're going to have to deal with if something is damaged due to carelessness e.g. "if that is her being nice... idk maybe I shouldn't use this laptop as a drink coaster..." (true story).

I feel that I am putting things into perspective or encouraging them to exercise a little foresight so that we're not short as far as equipment and spending money that doesn't need to be spent.

I have definitely learned that if someone has the title of Dr. you should not assume that that means they have common sense. It just means they went to school longer haha /rant
 

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For me it's different because I don't collaborate much with people - I would never be on a group project, for example. If that were the case, perhaps I might tread a little more lightly.
I love collaborating with people. Doing things on my own bores me to death. Unfortunately I hate collaborating with most of the people - they have zero interest in getting the job well done, efficiently. But for better or worse, being a software developer requires a lot of team work and in my case struggling to force customers to think about what want precisely. This is how I end up being "mean" to them - I either push them too much so that they can have good software, or I throw my hands in the air and deliver the nonsense they were absolutely certain that they wanted. Then when they try to file bug reports, I'm the mean one who tells them that according to their requirements what they enjoy is a feature, not a bug.

My position requires me to be responsible for a sizable amount of assets that a decent number of employees don't seem to understand/respect.
I would hate to be in your position and if I am, I would very likely be intentionally mean. Abusing or neglecting equipment is such a trigger for me.

I have definitely learned that if someone has the title of Dr. you should not assume that that means they have common sense. It just means they went to school longer haha /rant
Hahaha, so true.
 

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I think the best example of this is when I was mean to a teacher of mine in class. And I'm not even going to pretend that it wasn't intentional. Context:

We had had our issues before and even a heated confrontation the previous month. This was due to a completely unrelated issue I had with her, that I won't get into now, but basically: She was on my shit list.

Now I have an immense love of Skittles. Anyone who knows me, knows this. It's irrational, I can't explain it, I can't temper it, I simply love them. Can plow through packets at a time. But I am also very generous with Skittles, since I am more than happy to share them with anybody who asks for some, occasionally even offering them out. I can't really explain that either, since I'm not like that with any of my other stuff, but I guess since I consume so much and Skittles make me happy, I see no reason to not share them around when I have them.

Now onto the actual story:
One day I walked into this odious woman's class and once it started, everyone was working, she was doing her usual spiel and I decided to (as I am prone to) open a pack of Skittles and began to snack. I offered some around, when people asked I gave them some, but I completely blanked her (which she would have noticed, since I always made an effort to offer the teachers some as well).

Then, she walked right up to me, grinning like a complete moron, and said: "Ooh, Skittles! Are any of those for me? I wouldn't mind some".

An obvious attempt at extending an olive branch that I saw through with ease. Clearly her intention was to prompt me to offer her Skittles, she would accept, then it would publicly appear as if we were back on good terms and she wasn't on my shit list. Pathetic attempt at manipulation if you ask me. So I simply replied: "No. None of these are for you."

She stood and blinked for a couple of seconds.

Her: "Oh... Why?"
Me: "Because I dislike you and I don't think you deserve any of them".

The entire class went dead quiet for about 5 seconds and she sort of shuffled around.

Her: "That was awfully rude".
Me: "Perhaps. Regardless, these are not for you".

The class continued after that, but the tension was so thick you could slice through it with a knife. All my friends afterwards lamented how mean that was and frankly, I didn't give even half a damn.
 

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Just today.

ENTP: WHY ARE YOU HERE SO EARLY? WHEN DID YOU GET IN TODAY? ISN'T IT TOO EARLY FOR YOU TO BE HERE? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? IT MAKES NO SENSE. WHY WOULD YOU BE HERE IF YOU DIDN'T NEED TO BE? (yes, he was shouting - randomly walked in with rapid fire questioning)
INTJ: -long stare- You are being very nosy.
ENTP: How is that nosy? It's called conversation!
INTJ: My schedule is none of your business.
ENTP: Jesus all you have to do is answer the question. You don't have to be a bitch.
INTJ: It's interesting that if someone doesn't want to explain themselves to you, you think they are a bitch.
ENTP: ...
INTJ: -leaves-

(we're friends, haha)

Generally if I am too abrupt or too direct I'm seen as being mean.
 

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@stathamspeacoat That employee doesn't care about the notarization, they just needed a metaphorical checking up on as they were struggling that day. From the transcript i knew you were pissed from the second response before mention of being irritated. When someone is looking into the eyes of another the feeling inside is always delivered, if it is received and by how much depends on the recipient. It is quite characteristic of a Feeling type to pick up on this and potentially to sulk at it too. I would have at the employees second retort not even responded directly since its unreasonable, and the kind of reply emotional people give when they're tired. I would have given them an alternative benefit which would have come in the form acknowledgement. Acknowledgment that they're not in the best of places. Many times people just need to vent into a space, or know that someone can see them. When you look out for people in this way they look out for you. Although one has to be quite selective in a professional setting, sometimes people take a whole hand when you give them a finger especially when people are one paycheck away from having their lifestyle changed. People don't like change. Not making any particular point, just voicing the contrasts.

I've yet to come across an INTJ that has been mean to me for no reason, the mean people interpret often don't see the reason and therefore get unexpected returns... or.. they see, but appeal for something else that INTJs are unable to offer sufficiently therefore get 0 feedback. Both versions can seem overly mean. Generally it takes too much resources to be mean.
 

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Like most parents, I was protective of my kids when they were little. One day my 6 year old mentioned that he had to spend recess sitting with his head on the desk, as did most of the class. It turned out this happened a lot. This concerned me, because young children need recess - their bodies and brains need to move. I asked him why his class had to miss recess.

6-year-old: "We didn't do our homework."
Me: "But you did. I helped you with it."
6-year-old: "I know. But the teacher didn't like it."

I called the school. The teacher called back while I was at work. I was running a lab at the time, and was known for being pretty easy going.

Teacher, very confidently: "You will feel better knowing that it wasn't just your son. I wasn't singling him out. Most of the class missed recess."

Me: "Why would that make me feel better?"

Teacher: "So that you would know I'm not singling him out. It was about not doing homework properly. I have a firm discipline policy about homework."

Me: "He did his homework. I helped him with it."

Teacher: "Yes, but he didn't get a parent's signature. The students were supposed to get a parent's signature."

Me: "There was no indication anywhere on the homework sheet that I needed to sign it."

Teacher, slightly less confidently now: "I forgot to put that on the homework sheet. But I gave all the children verbal instructions."

Me: "So you forgot to ask for the parent's signature on the homework sheet, and then punished a bunch of 6-year-olds for also forgetting to ask for the signature?"

Teacher: "I wasn't picking on your son -"

I definitely was mad now, and gave her a little lecture about logic and child development, ending with: "Isn't it a clue for you, if the ENTIRE CLASS makes the same mistake, that perhaps you had something to do with it? How can you hold them to a higher level of responsibility than you hold yourself? It was your mistake! YOU should be sitting with your head on the desk for a hour, not them!"

When she started crying I figured she had gotten the message. After I got off the phone my staff was all staring at me in shock. I wondered if I had perhaps gone too far, but decided that I had been reasonable. Even if it did make her cry.

The next day I got a call from the school's principal informing me that the teacher had changed her discipline approach. The teacher never spoke to me again, which made back to school nights slightly awkward, but it was worth it.
 

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i don't usually hear back about it when someone else unilaterally decides i was 'mean', though i'm sure lazy-boy at work thinks i am. most of this seems to just be about boundary stuff, and there's been no shortage of that kind of thing in my life.
 
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This isn't exactly about being "mean" but I did think it was funny. About a year ago I had the flu and had to brave the snow to go into work for a few hours anyway to file taxes. So I get home, ready to collapse on the couch or in bed, and my roommate is watching Guardians of the Galaxy again. And when I say again, I mean again. She has made me watch it like ten times and I didn't think it was all that great the first time, which she knows. So I jokingly was like "aw hell no, I'm going to bed" and went to take a nap instead. Thought absolutely nothing of it, I didn't mind just going to bed. Apparently she told our mutual friend later that I lost my shit when I got home and got super angry about the movie being on. My roommate evidently thought I had thrown a tantrum, which made me laugh because I really wasn't upset at all. I told her I had been kidding and she must have misinterpreted but she insists that I stormed out of the room and slammed my door. Lol. That did not happen.

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Somewhat unrelated story time.

I have come to a fascinating realization about my friend/roommate. She thinks I am mean, but really she is kind of mean. She's a teacher, teaches mostly elementary age kids, and I am always joking to her about how she needs to be strict with children and discipline them. I'm a bit old fashioned that way, even I admit. She calls me mean all the time for thinking some children's behaviour is simply unacceptable and needs to be corrected. But every time I have actually seen her interact with children she's been quite unpleasant. Like a few weeks ago we were at an outdoor event and some six year old ran up to her to say that he had found a ball or something. He looked downright proud, a cute kid.

So he holds the ball up to her and she goes "that's nice," in a really rude way. The kid stares up at her and says he found it by the deck. She goes "why are you telling me?" and walks right past him. Then she muttered something about people letting their kids run around outside.

I was completely shocked! Haha, like really? Who talks to a six year old like that? It was a family event and I saw no problem, the kids were being well behaved and just running around on the lawn playing with the dogs and stuff. It was a nice day on the lakeside. So I asked her why she was being bitchy and she was like "I don't want to see a bunch of snotty kids running around, let alone talk to them" or something like that. To which I had no reply, and was frankly a little embarrassed. The property is owned by some family friends of mine and the kids were obviously their guests. My friend made no effort to keep her voice down. But it did hit me - I realized that every time I've seen her around kids she has been like that. Dismissive, a bit rude, even competitive with them. I just assumed they were isolated incidents every time because she's a teacher, surely she is good with kids. But, perhaps I was wrong. Maybe she's mean?

Anyway, thought that was funny. How well can any of us really judge ourselves when it comes to this sort of thing? I don't think I am mean, but neither does my friend. So maybe I am wrong.
 

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Like most parents, I was protective of my kids when they were little. One day my 6 year old mentioned that he had to spend recess sitting with his head on the desk, as did most of the class. It turned out this happened a lot. This concerned me, because young children need recess - their bodies and brains need to move. I asked him why his class had to miss recess.

6-year-old: "We didn't do our homework."
Me: "But you did. I helped you with it."
6-year-old: "I know. But the teacher didn't like it."

I called the school. The teacher called back while I was at work. I was running a lab at the time, and was known for being pretty easy going.

Teacher, very confidently: "You will feel better knowing that it wasn't just your son. I wasn't singling him out. Most of the class missed recess."

Me: "Why would that make me feel better?"

Teacher: "So that you would know I'm not singling him out. It was about not doing homework properly. I have a firm discipline policy about homework."

Me: "He did his homework. I helped him with it."

Teacher: "Yes, but he didn't get a parent's signature. The students were supposed to get a parent's signature."

Me: "There was no indication anywhere on the homework sheet that I needed to sign it."

Teacher, slightly less confidently now: "I forgot to put that on the homework sheet. But I gave all the children verbal instructions."

Me: "So you forgot to ask for the parent's signature on the homework sheet, and then punished a bunch of 6-year-olds for also forgetting to ask for the signature?"

Teacher: "I wasn't picking on your son -"

I definitely was mad now, and gave her a little lecture about logic and child development, ending with: "Isn't it a clue for you, if the ENTIRE CLASS makes the same mistake, that perhaps you had something to do with it? How can you hold them to a higher level of responsibility than you hold yourself? It was your mistake! YOU should be sitting with your head on the desk for a hour, not them!"

When she started crying I figured she had gotten the message. After I got off the phone my staff was all staring at me in shock. I wondered if I had perhaps gone too far, but decided that I had been reasonable. Even if it did make her cry.

The next day I got a call from the school's principal informing me that the teacher had changed her discipline approach. The teacher never spoke to me again, which made back to school nights slightly awkward, but it was worth it.
Honestly, that is one of the awesomest things I have heard in a while. I've been in the position of being the teacher and it can be hard to make the right decision at times, but that was good feedback that the teacher needed, and I doubt it would have sunk in if you had delivered it more gently. The worst part is that she tried to defend it by saying the whole class had to miss recess, as if injustice is suddenly alright when everyone suffers because of it.

The teacher was awfully emotional about taking the criticism, but that's not your problem.
 
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