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Saying What You Mean

I saw this picture on Lena Dunham’s Instagram recently. Her comment: “Thank you to the woman who taught me how to say both Thank You and Fuck You". I copied it. Thought about it. A lot.

Here is the thing: I have spent much of my life saying both. At the same time. To the same person. When I should have just said “Fuck You.". Let’s take a look and see who’s with me.

“I’m really sorry, but you were rude and it hurt my feelings.” Right. They were rude and hurt my feelings, but being the nurturing soul that I am, I feel the need to begin my chastisement with an apology. Come on, you know you do it.

“I hope you don’t mind if I tell you I don’t agree.” God, save us from ourselves. Why should I care if they mind? Only the female gender begins sentences like this. It’s the same as when women in meetings preface ideas or comments with, “I’m sure this is silly,” or “I’m sure you’ve already covered this, but” … when someone does that with me in business, I stop them and say, “Please start your comment again without the self-deprecating, self-demeaning intro that has already made what you are about to say next ridiculous.” I say this even to clients, and I usually point out that only women start comments that way.

“I’m really angry with you, but don’t worry; I will be fine about it later.” So, they did something ‘not so much’ and while I take the time to actually tell them, I reassure them there is no real permanent damage. The problem with that approach is that it often leads to irreparable damage. Trust is often gone and open dialog no more.

So, I love that someone taught Lena Dunham to be both a tough girl and a grateful girl. And I don’t think she meant that she says both phrases in the same breath to the same person, but for me, her comment provided an "a-ha" moment, for which I’m grateful.

So many lessons from that fabulous Girls creator. Love the show. Love the difficulty I have watching it. Thank you, Lena Dunham—and without a "Fuck You" at the end of it.

Christine Merser, Managing Partner

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