Monday, September 29, 2008

Beating the Bully

By Nichole Giles

By now, you’re probably wondering how I fared in the battle against “The Program,” and the nefarious contract I was expected to sign. So I thought I’d give you all an update.

After my conversation with the producer in which she insisted that I have to sign this contract, I didn’t hear from anyone for nearly two weeks. I continued to send both my girls to their rehearsals—because I believe that once you start something, you need to be prepared to finish as long as you are physically able—and have given a lot of thought about the obligations to which I’m willing to adhere, and which ones I absolutely oppose.

Then, two days before another rehearsal, I received a phone call in the middle of the day. As is usually the case, I was working on my brilliant novel—you know, the one that will someday be a NYT Bestseller—trying to make up for a morning that was lost to other issues of interruption, when the phone rang. When I realized who it was, I minimized my document and looked at my watch. I had exactly ten minutes before elementary school pick up time. Sigh. One of these days I’ll learn to ignore the doorbell and let voicemail pick up.

But this particular call needed to be taken. And if my kids ended up walking home, at least I would have this thing resolved. So I spoke calmly, and candidly, pulling out a copy of the contract and clearly stating which parts to which I would agree, and which I would not. I offered that, since they claim the other document I signed is legally binding, it should be sufficient and they don’t need more on that subject. I agreed to sign a liability waver, and an acknowledgement of rules and professional conduct. I also offered to personally write an amendment to their contract, and sign that.

But, the bully got her back up and threatened that she didn’t think they would take an amended contract. She was sure that this contract was the only contract they would take, and if I didn’t…well, she didn’t know what would happen. But she was going to consult with the big bad city attorney. (Smile, we know that person too, several of those people in fact.)

But I remained calm, clearly stating my purpose in protecting myself and my children, and informed her that the terms I outlined were the only ones to which I would agree, and if the producers couldn’t accept that, then they were welcome to remove us from The Program. (By now, I had decided to have both girls finish the semester simply so they understand that it isn’t okay to quit something before finishing.) What I didn’t point out, but am sure she understood, is that in the event of their removal, I would no longer be responsible for paying the dreaded fee that started this fight in the first place—thus, I would win.

Essentially, her back was in a corner. She told me she’d take it to a “committee” and get back with me.

Amazingly, the conversation lasted approximately eight minutes. I made it in time to pick up my children and as I parked my car in front of the school to wait, my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but took the call anyway—suspecting it might be the same woman again.

It was. In an amazingly quick conversation (we’re talking less than five minutes) with…the producers, directors, and the city attorney, a decision was reached. I was free to amend the contract in the areas I had specified, as long as I signed the parts I had agreed with, and turned it in this week. Interesting.

I smiled, agreed, and let her know I’d send it with my girls to the next rehearsal.

So. While my daughter will continue with The Program through December, she is doing so by the directive of her mother and not her producer. Though a contract will be signed, it is being amended into a contract I can be comfortable signing, and will bind me only to the end of this semester—minus dreaded fees. We were able to reach a compromise.

And I feel like I won a major battle. Because not only did I stand up for my children and myself, I did NOT allow myself to be bullied into doing something I didn’t want to do, or signing something I was uncomfortable with. And, as I suspected, the bully’s threats proved unwarranted and empty. She capitulated to every change I requested.

In the end, I was the last woman standing. And that, my friends, is a liberating feeling!


Jennifer said...

What a mess! Good for you for standing up for yourself. I let myself get bullied into things too often. The next time something like this happens to me, I'll try to follow your example. :)

Tristi Pinkston said...

You go, girl!

ali said...

Good for you Nichole! I'm super impressed. I'm a terrible push over. Oh, I can talk a good talk, but I'll back down in a nano second if push comes to shove. I'm trying to be better, but ...

I'm jazzed by your success. It gives me hope!

YAY for you!

Keith Fisher said...

Will you represent me, next time someone feels the need to stretch muscles they don't really have? I'' just say call my representative and send them to you. Good job. I'm proud of you.

Nichole Giles said...

Wow, thanks for all the support, everyone. I have to admit, it did feel good to get that last phone call.

You can just call me stubborn! Thanks for the comments.