Monday, November 8, 2010

On Being A Hardass

I've been giving this some thought over the past, say, 20 years or so.

It's very unpleasant to be on the receiving end of some testosterone-laden (male or female, doesn't matter), froth-at-the-mouth, belly-jutting jerk who never EVER lets anyone else get a word in edgewise, never EVER wants to talk settlement unless it's a total surrender, and never EVER has anything but the utmost contempt and abuse for you.

On the other hand, sometimes I've found I can be a hardass without (I think) being totally unreasonable.  Taking a tough negotiating stance can  psych out my adversary.  Having the time, energy, money, reputation, power and  resources to back up a hardline position - even when it's unreasonable - can lead to (perhaps undeserving) good results. And sometimes, being a hardass is the only option.  Like when the other side is so irrational that it would be impossible to cave, let alone meet half-way, without marching into quicksand.

But being a hardass is so energy-consuming - Lord, it's exhausting!  And apart from being so draining, who the hell wants to look in the mirror and see the person you usually loathe staring right back at you, looking just like you? It's unnerving.  And the effect on the people around you?  OK, some people LIKE hardasses. They seek them out for any number of reasons.  For the most part, though, normal people would prefer to spend their time not being embarrassed and not being stressed out by being around such hyper-aggressiveness.

So, I wonder, is it really worth it to be 'tough', despite the potentially good result?

Notice this post isn't addressing the idea of only LAWYERS as being hardasses. No, I'm talking about hardasses in general.   Because sometimes, the biggest hardass of all isn't a lawyer. It's the lady calling from Customer Service who won't give you her direct extension, the State Trooper who pulls you over for going seven miles over the speed limit, the Customs Officer who rips apart your suitcase, the sanitation worker who refuses to remove your leaf bags, the guy behind the counter going on his break so the other check-out line has twenty people waiting -- you get the idea.

Fine, yeah, sometimes it's the lawyers.

Which brings me around to my favorite expression: If people weren't a**h***s, they wouldn't need lawyers (I made that one up a while ago).   Something to ponder the next time someone makes another bad lawyer joke.

Bottom line: Plenty of hardasses from all walks of life to go around.

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