If you’ve not experienced it yet, then there’ll be a day in your PTO volunteer experience when you come across a school parent who is not nice to you and somehow thinks Heathers was a primer on how to interact with others.
So how in the world do you handle this type of person without losing your mind and wanting to call it quits because you don’t have time for the nonsense? That’s just what we’ll cover in this blog post!
Balancing the Good and Bad
As a long time PTA volunteer, there’s one question that nags at me… why in the world are people so stinking’ mean in PTO Land sometimes? And why are these mean people so difficult to work with (always, right!)?
I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s been really fun at times… like when my 12 year old hugged me and told me that all of my hard work paid off right after the 6th grade dance I coordinated that was a total pain in the butt. You see, kiddos were running around using the glow necklaces like lassos and whips and the slacker Principal didn’t show, meaning I had to be bad cop and take the necklaces away.
And then there have been some rough times…
Like the time that a parent rattled off about a dozen things she thought the PTA could or should be doing in a pretty rude and demanding tone, making me feel like total failure for a moment (thank goodness I have an awesome poker face!).
And the other time when the new PTA President passive aggressively excluded me from the group and made me feel like my ideas weren’t valuable or wanted. Yep. Those are the times that I’d like to forget in a nano second because they sucked big time.
There are many more moments like this that I care not to recount because I know you know what I’m talking about. You’ve been there. We’ve all been there together.
It’s About Them. Not You.
But the thing I’ve come to realize, and what is crucial for you to realize too, is that all of this was Never. About. Me. And it’s never going to be about you because you’re not a jerk, right?
It was all about them and their insecurities and feelings of inadequacy and whatever is going on in their lives. For the know it all mom (who’d never been to a PTA meeting that I’d ever attended, for what it’s worth), she was likely feeling bad that she couldn’t be more active. She mentioned that she worked full time about a dozen times in our 3 minute conversation.
It’s always easier to talk the talk instead of walking the talk. And so most people will do just that. Talk. And not have any action to follow it up with. And that is so frustrating, but realizing this is so key to keeping your brain from exploding sometimes.
The new PTA President? Turns out she was completely insecure and took any suggestion as criticism, when that’s totally wasn’t the intent or the tone. But I digress from discussing her stunted social and emotional development…
What to Do Instead
The next time someone is mean or rude to you in PTO Land, or where ever, stop and wait a beat before you respond! And when you do respond, make sure it’s with kindness.
That’s right! In everything you do, make sure you are kind. Even when people don’t deserve it.
In fact, that’s especially the right time to do it. Because odds are, that’s exactly what that person needs, whether they know it or not.
You never know what someone is going through- maybe they just had an argument with their husband. Maybe they’re stressed out beyond belief and their taking it out on you.
It doesn’t really matter. Cause you can’t control other people or even what they say or do.
So be kind.
Chances are you’ll be blessed by that kindness you put out into the world because what goes around comes around.
And instead of replaying the encounter, wishing you hadn’t said this or that, or something mean or unkind, you’ll be able to look back with pride because once again, you put something out to make the world a better place. Which is likely a key component of why you got involved in your school’s parent group in the first place!
There now. I feel better now that this advice is out in the world because learning this helped me become a more effective and confident leader and I believe it’s going to do the very same for you. Hope you feel the same way too.
Think about this the next time someone is mean to you. Then hit ’em upside their head with a huge dose of kindness. They’ll never see it coming. Ha!
Over to you!
Now you know to handle those mean girls like a champ, so get on out there and rock your community with kindness and surprise ’em even when it’s not really deserved.