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Defense against sarcastic tone

Hello guys,

there was this nurse who thinks she knows everything, of course. And she thought that I was being too slow to take care of a patient. However, it was because I had other priorities. She verbally said also that I should have called earlier the psychiatrist. I told her I had other priorities. And when I told her the child could go home (after having confirmed it with my supervisors) she said:

Nurse: Aaaah, very good.

But on a tone where it's implied: "Aaaah finally".

It pissed me off because this nurse has been passive-aggressive with me every time I worked with her. Always implying that I was not doing a good job. Trying to be the judge basically and guilt-trip me.

So this time, I went back and told her:

John: You said this on a sarcastic tone. You know that I have to check with my supervisors, right?

I implied: you've been working there for 20 years (and she's totally frustrated) but you don't know that it takes time to check with my supervisors?

As I left I could hear her tell her colleagues (a bit shocked from my remark): "I don't know" with a little voice. Like she was playing the innocent.

So I might have gone 1 or 2 notches above the right aggression calibration scale. I did not shout but it seemed like it was coming out of nowhere. It was not, there was this whole history where she's been micro-aggressing me.

I went back because I was not ready for her attack.

So my question is:

How to defend against a sarcastic tone?

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Quote from John Freeman on March 9, 2021, 7:02 am

So I might have gone 1 or 2 notches above the right aggression  calibration scale. I did not shout but it seemed like it was coming out of nowhere. It was not, there was this whole history where she's been micro-aggressing me.

How to defend against a sarcastic tone?

I think it's okay to not get the most precise level of aggression on the calibration scale.
Now she will think twice about stepping over your boundaries again.

Quote from John Freeman on March 9, 2021, 7:02 am

John: You said this on a sarcastic tone. You know that I have to check with my supervisors, right?

I implied: you've been working there for 20 years (and she's totally frustrated) but you don't know that it takes time to check with my supervisors?

I think re-phrasing the statements from second-person to first-person would sound less accusatory to the bystanders and more assertive.

For example,

John: When I told you that the child could go home and you replied "Aaaah, very good", I felt that the tone was sarcastic because I needed to check with my supervisors and it implied that I took a long time.

Using the Higher Authority Power Move

I think the higher authority power move could be used:

John: I had other priorities today. (Use the I'm busy power move since she doesn't respect your priorities)
Thank you for waiting.
I checked with my supervisor. (Use the supervisor's authority to back your decision)
We have decided for the child to go home.

Possible Counter-Move In the Moment

Nurse: Aaaah, very good.

John: Yeah, busy day, I checked with our supervisor, and we decided. (You had other priorities which included checking with higher authority)
Thank you for your understanding. (Implies you are a higher authority as well)

I was thinking about these responses to paint a picture that you are someone who is focused on doing the work and gets along with higher authority.
Her sarcastic remark was to judge you on work, but going in this direction would make her look ill-informed about judging the situation.

What do you think John?

Lucio Buffalmano and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoJohn Freeman

Some quick notes on this:

  • Agree with Matthew, no biggies that you "overdid it" in this case, and it can serve as a "fear-based" warning shot

Ideally, you call it out sooner so that you don't stew, so that you don't go overboard, but life is not about being perfect, and you did well. Between saying nothing and going overboard, the latter is often better.

  • Swap "you did" with "the way you said, it sounded like there was some sarcasm in it"

John: You said this on a sarcastic tone. You know that I have to check with my supervisors, right?

Very assertive and direct, good.

If you wanted to take some of the edge off (which is often a good idea) move the "you" from the beginning, and that will soften the message, while still addressing the issue heads on.

This approach also allows you to go frame-imposing if she denies, because it's about your interpretation, and you always have total authority on that. That way, you don't get locked out into an escalation of "yes you did, no I didn't".

  • Tell her to help you

When she said you should have called earlier the psychiatrist, that sounds like the event was in the past? Not very useful. But if she has good insights, maybe she can be helpful.

Why not telling her:

You: "look, I don't know about that, I'll think about it, but when things have happened already, we cannot undo them. when you think something can be done better, please tell me in real-time"

This empowers the nurse of course and raises her closer to your level of power. Not everyone might worthy of it, but might lead to better outcomes, so very worthy to consider.

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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