It all began when my niece, Kristen, decided to host an online nail polish party. 

Now hold on, stay with me here. Even if you don’t care a tinker’s dam about nail polish, there’s a lot more to this story …

Jenny, the distributor, was providing a temporary website for Kristen under the umbrella of her own website. Knowing nothing about gel nails, I used this handy Facebook page to ask questions about the product and get answers, thinking that the others Kristen had invited would also find the information useful. 

Every day Jenny the distributor posted fun and playful posts about the polish, accessory products, what colours were available, and what outfits they would go with. I interacted with several posts to show activity on my niece’s sales website. That’s what you do, right?

When it came time for me to order, I noticed that Jenny wasn’t including the URL for ordering on her posts. When I asked what link I should use, I was advised to scroll up … waaaaay up to the original post made several days and dozens of posts earlier. Really? No call to action, no ready link to order, sure wasn’t making it easy to buy. 

TIP: Make is easy for people to do what you want them to do and you increase the chances that they will. If you make it too hard, they’ll give up.

If it wasn’t for my niece, I would have thrown in the towel. I mean, how much do I really need nail polish? Being a supportive aunt to an equally supportive niece, I ordered two bottles at a cost of $60. Ouch.

I asked Jenny if it was necessary to purchase their company’s LED light to cure the polish. It was and that would be another $60. Through a private message, I explained to Jenny that my niece had kindly offered to let me use her light for the first time and if I liked it, would order my own later.

The polish arrived by courier in record time. I posted “kudos for the quick delivery!” on Kristen and Jenny’s website. Only a couple people were posting on the website, the quiet introverts posting nothing publicly. 

NOTE TO INTROVERTS: if you’re reading everyone else’s posts and never posting yourself, that’s eavesdropping. Instead, join in and comment.

A few days later and with the help of my niece, I prepared my nails by removing any oils, buffing and filing them, and pushing the cuticles way back. I painted on not one, but two, coats of “Toes in the Sand”, curing each under the special LED lights. They looked great! I looked forward to enjoying them for up to two whole weeks, as the promo material suggested.

Well, you can imagine my surprise when, a few days later, I sent Jenny a private message that simply read, “Ooops, 3 days and it’s chipped”, and included the photo you see above this blog.

She replied, “Looks to me like you need to be sure to cap your nails. Did you make a point of that and prep?” I said that (capping) was good to know and I would do that in future, thanks. We exchange thumbs-up images, and I close with, “Still, disappointing that it barely lasted 3 days :(“.

POINT: When someone expresses disappointment, acknowledge it. Validate that you understand their perspective, regardless of why that loss occurred. And especially do that if this person is your client.

Instead, she shot back saying, “Well, if you don’t do the prep, that (the chipping) is expected. That’s why I am sure to post the instructions”. 

Maybe I read it wrong. Maybe it was because I felt I hadn’t been heard and had my disappointment acknowledged. For whatever reason, Jenny’s response felt like blame. I chose not to respond at all for fear that it would spiral further. Sometimes no response is the wisest response of all.

The next day, it exploded. 

Jenny private messaged me saying that her “sweet Aunt Holly” had seen many compliments about my nails on my FB page. I hadn’t posted anything for a few days so wasn’t sure what post she was referring to. I simply responded, “I was promoting your product”. 

She thanked me saying she was relieved, thinking I wasn’t satisfied. 

Well, the real truth was, I was satisfied with the product–not satisfied with her. It sounded like she thought I’d just recently posted some kudos, so I clarified by saying, “That was before it chipped, and your response. I didn’t post that (meaning my nails chipping) on FB as a courtesy”. 

She offered to refund my money if I returned the bottles to her. I thanked her, saying that wasn’t necessary … and then, thinking I was actually providing some useful feedback and tips, suggested how she may have responded that would have felt a lot better from a client perspective. I said it would have been useful to be given a solution to the immediate concern (how do I fix a chipped nail or two?) and then be given suggestions to prevent it from happening in future. I explained that her response felt like she was saying she had done everything right and that the full blame for the nails chipping was on me. I ended by saying, “You’re trying hard and I support that. I understand your perspective. I wasn’t attacking you, just disappointed”.

Then came her response. Ouch!

Unfortunately, it sounded like Jenny thought I was saying I had posted a compliment then said I didn’t (nope, never did that). She called me critical, opinionated, impolite, a liar, manipulative, and claimed that I had shamed her (nope, not that either). 

Of all those words, the once that went to my core was being called a liar, because I had never lied to her, ever. Normally, I would suggest a phone call to clarify, but after being the recipient of such vile judgment and name-calling, I felt nothing I said would be heard. So I simply responded by saying, “I’m not sure what post you saw today, but it wasn’t from me. Perhaps somebody else forwarded it? I also wish you the best.”

I shared Jenny’s comments and our full private message exchanges with my niece. I wanted her to know the side of Jenny I saw and the woman she was dealing with so she wouldn’t be the recipient of any similar misunderstandings and turnings of events. And the kid in me wanted validation for my perspective–not that I was right, but that I was hurt. 

I didn’t sleep that night. I felt assaulted. My husband said to let it go, and I knew that was the best thing to do, but the hurt was clenching my heart so intensely, it refused to loosen its vice grip. 

So what’s the message out of the mess?

I’ve had a week to reflect upon this exchange and offer these insights in case you find yourself in a similar misunderstanding. I hope these lessons help you too.

  1. When you’re hurting, ask yourself, “Why does this hurt so much?”. Dig deep.
  2. Even when you do your best, you’re human. Things get messed up.
  3. Forgive yourself and others, for being human.
  4. You know who you are. Someone calling you names isn’t going to change that.
  5. Someone will only hear you when they’re in “listen” mode.
  6. Be in listen mode.
  7. Sometimes, the best way to let go is to end a relationship and walk away.

Whew, that was a tough lesson. I hope I just spared you having to live it yourself. If you’re the butt of name-calling and unfair judgment, let me remind you of what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” And I refuse to give Jenny that. 

What tough lessons have you learned lately?

#resiliency #communication #leadership

©2021 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Until next time, here’s to …
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
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Post your comments and reactions below. There are no right or wrong responses, just honest, respectful ones. I’d love to hear your opinion. What about this article resonated with YOU?

Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps leaders use their natural communication strengths to build resilient teams that talk.


  • Christine Bell says:

    Thank you for this Marion! Very suitable for a situation I am also experiencing.

    • Christine, sorry to hear you’re going through a difficult situation. Take a peek at my “lessons learned” and I hope they are useful to you too. Life has a way of giving us learning opportunities and the good news/bad news is that if we don’t get the lesson first time round, life sends other “learning opps” our way, lol.

  • Deborah Krause says:

    Thank you for this post and especially for having the courage to be introspective about resolving the dilemma. It seems that in the last few months so many nerves are frayed for everyone, taking a step back for a breather and letting go are great advice.

    • Deborah, thank you so much for YOUR post! I really appreciate you recognizing the effort it takes to be introspective. I love learning and getting something positive out of a negative situation. It gives me great energy to share those lessons with others interested in learning too … like you!

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