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How to Write “that” Letter to “that” Person

Confrontation is stressful, even when you are in the right!  It is especially tough dealing with those emotionally charged emails at 2AM.  Well, first, don’t reply at 2AM if at all possible, and always give at least 6 hours for you to cool off (many people say 24 but I personally don’t find this realistic).

Remember: the more ridiculous and provocative they are, the more professional you become.  Your reply cannot stoop to their level, and don’t feed the flame; you need to show, without a doubt, that you are in control, and that you are going to stay in control.

I developed this system with the help of family members who are well versed in business management and contract law.  It has yet to steer me wrong, and always gives me the confidence that, no matter what madness the other side throws at me, that I will respond appropriately.  Doing this cuts down on email and interpersonal drama, and often will either push the offending party to finally just leave, or will regain a firm handle on their behavior moving forward.


1. Don’t Apologize for things that you don’t need to apologize for (aka “the symbolic apology”)
You can say “I’m sorry Susie Snot feels that way” (because she is such a pain in your ass that you do feel sorry about it).  However, do not say “I am sorry I corrected Susie Snot on her
crappy dancing”).  Sometimes this is all people want, anyway.

2. Don’t Over explain or over justify:
You aren’t actually on trial, and this is your class/studio/team.  Beyond what you write below, you shouldn’t need to explain yourself beyond one or two sentences.

3. Don’t Give the crazies ammo (and stick to the NOW):
Do not bring up past situations that are not DIRECTLY related to this event.  Do not bring up other parents or students.  Doing so only gives them a chance to derail the conversation (like one does in marriage counseling or on the Dr. Phil show).  

4. Don’t Let your emotions run wild
I know: you are emotional because this BS is upsetting (sometimes the cry in the shower with a bottle of wine level of upsetting) . But do not let it bleed into your letter.  The fact you are hurt is irrelevant to this.  The fact you feel betrayed is also irrelevant. The fact that this is ABSURD ARE YOU JOKING is irrelevant.  They will already bring the drama, so send it back to that momma.
Side note: Let someone who isn’t involved read your email before you send it.  You might think you sound calm and collected when you say “Any sane person would realize that this is inappropriate” but you don’t.

5. Don’t Argue in Email/text
It’s not a break up with a boyfriend...this is business. So treat it as such and don’t get sucked into an email war.  You have better things to do, like watch TV and drink wine.  In your note, make it clear they need to follow up in person (as needed) then stick to it.  If they reply like a crazypants, then simply copy and paste your request that they set up an in person meeting with you and send it again.  After that, STOP REPLYING.  If they want to talk with you and you are nervous, arrange for someone else to be in the studio and within earshot.  Don’t let them bully you into continuing the conversation.  This is your call, not theirs.

Outline & What to Say

  1. Pleasant introduction
    : Dear Ms. Crazypants, We've been glad to have you at our studio for 10000 years and I know that Ms. Spoiled has worked rarely  hard with all the teachers to grow as a brat dancer.
  2. Clear/SHORT Recap of what happened (3 sentences max...they know what they did)
    Ex: Unfortunately, this past weekend featured some unacceptable behavior (throwing tables into judges, hiring someone to knock out another students’ kneecaps, and inappropriate language.  She also missed the last six rehearsals).  This behavior negatively impacted our performance and disrupted the team.
  3. Contract/Policy Quote
    Ex: Our annual competition contract states on page 3 that “you must act like a civilized human at all times, and that you may not, for any reason, miss rehearsal in order to sabotage another dancer (without prior permission). “  You signed this contract at the beginning of the year in your own blood.
  4. Violation Made Clear and any steps already taken
    Ex: Ms. Spoiled violated our policy when she lost her shit spoke rudely to her teammates and refused to come to rehearsal.  Ms. Spoiled and I have spoken about this many multiple times this semester already, but the behavior continues.  This cannot continue.
  5. State what you want (Be honest with yourself)***
    Half the battle is knowing what you want to achieve from this letter.  Do you want them to GTFO?  Then make it clear they need to find another studio.  Do you want an apology? To put them on notice, say that they have one more chance?  Be clear and realistic and know your goal before you write anything.  Have clear deadlines.  
    Ex: If Ms. Spoiled would like to stay  in my breathing space on the team then I expect her to apologize to me and to the team at Wednesday’s rehearsal.  She must be on time for the rest of the year, and there will be no more assaults at competitions.  I also will not tolerate any more interruptions to my baby ballet class.  You must find me outside of class or leave a message to set up a meeting instead..
  6. Consequences 
    If you have a policy then FOLLOW IT.  It sounds silly, but often we hesitate to follow through.  That helps no one!  You have a class/business.  They pay you, but you are not their servant.  They have the privilege of your services.  Protect yourself and your business and be consistent with your rules and regulations.  It will save you so much drama and heartache in the end.
    Ex: If Ms. Spoiled does not follow through with these conditions, then she will
    have to deal with her actions for the first time ever not be on this team.
  7. Refunds and Payments
    This is the time to restate the refund policy, if relevant to the situation.  This whole outline can also be used to clearly indicate that a child cannot perform/take class if payments are not made.  It turns out that you need actual $$ (not dance fairy dust) to pay your rent.
  8. Happy Ending.  
    This can be really tough, but you have to find a way to end on a relatively positive, or at least courteous, note.
    Ex: I wish you the best of luck in Ms. Spoiled’s dancing career, and I appreciate
    how much of my time you wasted your time with us.  
    Ex: I believe with
     a miracle from baby Jesus hard work and communication we can move past this and finish out the year strong.

  1. Sign your name and exhale.  You got this.  

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