Why be Snarky?

Why be snarky when being snarky is unnecessary, particularly in the business world? One of Magnus vendors is a company with whom we interact on a frequent basis. The principal of this company, which will remain nameless, uses the most insulting tone imaginable when writing emails to me, the client. This person never misses the opportunity to make snappish comments about my staff, the amount of work the company is doing on Magnus’ behalf, or just about anything other than the work to be accomplished. Although this vendor’s work is, generally speaking, above average, I dread opening emails from the company owner. (Fortunately for both this person and me, my usual liaison is someone else at the vendor’s company and this person is polite and respectful when communicating with me.) I prefer someone to “get to the point” when writing to or speaking with me. The extra chatter, with peevish and petulant remarks, is off putting, to the point that I have given strong consideration to replacing this vendor or asking the company owner not to communicate with me. I don’t think snippy, testy communication is ever a good idea but sadly, many people seem not to share this opinion. David and I have had more than our fair share of snark from clients, most of whom become “one time clients,” because we believe life is too short to endure verbal abuse from anyone. Word to the wise: How you say something is truly as important, or more important, than what you say. Avoid being snarky if you want to spend time with me!

Any human to human interaction involves personalities, of course.  Most of the time one doesn’t give that much thought unless there is something that causes friction, something that isn’t comfortable.  Snarky or snide comments are one of those things.  It seems like the “snarker” is just picking, for whatever reason, at minor details.  Life and work are difficult enough without those things.  I have a friend who excelled at his academic pursuits to the point his roommate picked at him.  When confronted, the roommate said he was “chinking at the armor” of my friend, trying to find the weak spots.  But, why would one do that?  Jealousy, insecurity?  Kind of like a gnat or mosquito buzzing in an ear.  One just doesn’t want to hear that.  Swatting the bug is the choice of things to do at that point.  Again, that’s not good for friendships, work relationships, and certainly not client/vendor relationships.  In our high stress world, it is enough to deal with the clients without getting sniped at by a vendor, supplier, etc.  That’s getting it from both sides and it sure raises one’s blood pressure.  In today’s highly tense world, with divisive politics, the stakes have never been higher with snarky, or worse, language and behavior becoming normalized.  Add foul language to the situation and it gets even worse.  I’m thinking today of a politician whose judgment was poor, and in the process of making excuses, he attacked others while pleading for civility – though he is known for incivility.  We’re asking why be snarky, all the while knowing there is no legitimate reason to be.  

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