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Guy Fires His Daughter’s Friend From Working On A Film Set With Him For Being ‘Too Polite’

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Work culture refers to a collection of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that make up the regular atmosphere in a work environment.

That culture can be conducive to creativity and productivity or it can be toxic.

But some managers think a workplace run through fear and intimidation is the only effective kind. Their employees probably wouldn’t agree.

A man in the film industry faced backlash over the work culture he tried to instill. So hd turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for perspective.

Redditor FrustratedSingleDad asked:

“AITA: For Firing My Daughter’s Best Friend For Being Too Polite?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I hired my 16-year-old daughter’s 19-year-old female best friend. She is a good kid and has a real interest in learning and working in my industry.”

“My daughter’s friend was unqualified but I cleared it with the film’s producers to have an assistant who was also a student. She is a hard worker and a fast learner & picked up her role well.”

“She is going to have a successful career as a theater/film technician. In spite of that hard work and quick learning, I had to fire her last night over her text messages to me.”

However there was some question as to the inappropriateness of those texts.

“She is hired as a student, so her inexperience and therefore needing to ask questions is assumed. I expect text messages asking for more clear directions, instructions on assigned tasks, clarification of the equipment, etc…”

“I told her the beginning of December, ‘You are here to learn not to already know. No matter where I am you text me questions you have and I will come to show you or reply with an explanation’.”

“All her messages have been appropriate questions for the tasks currently assigned. My hang-up has been how she begins her messages.”

Turned out the messages were too polite for the OP.

“All start with ‘Mr {Last Name}’. ‘Sorry to bother you’. ‘I know you’re busy’. ‘I don’t want to be a bother’. ‘Sorry, I need help again’. Etc…”

“I have repeatedly texted back she is not a bother, that I want her asking questions, that she does not need to be formal, and so forth. No matter how many times I tell her to drop formalities she keeps using them in every message.”

“I explained I am her supervisor on set and her questions are part of that role. So after 5 weeks now of her not following my repeated requests to believe in the validity of her right to ask questions yesterday afternoon I switched it to an ultimatum.”

“‘If your future messages open with any wording that implies you are an inconvenience then I am going to assume you don’t yet feel professionally ready to be working on a film & will let you go’.”

“3 hours later she sends the final message with ‘Sorry…’. I replied back that she needed to go back to the trailer to get her stuff and leave she was no longer my assistant on this film.”

“Now she is hurt. Her mom passive-aggressively dragged me on FB.”

“My daughter texted letting me know how mad she is at me and when I got home had a sign on her bedroom door that said ‘Don’t knock, don’t try to speak with me’.”

“So basically everyone is mad at me. Now, the fired best friend will still be included in the credits, invited to the premiere as a crew member, and get a positive job reference on her ability to perform the assigned tasks.”

“All she lost was these final two weeks of work. I have assured everyone that I will give her another chance on a future gig when I feel she is ready to ask questions without qualifiers.”

“Listening to and adapting your work behavior to the preferences of your supervisor is a real-world priority, so I think I did her future career a favor teaching that lesson.”

“Am I the a**hole?”

Redditors weighed in on the situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors—or their cats—decided the OP was the a**hole.

“YTA here. You’re telling me that you fired a 19yo girl for being too polite, for apologising when she thought she might be interrupting your busy schedule.”

“This is a sign of respect that she’s showing you. She was asking appropriate questions and being perfectly professional.”

“There are plenty of adults who would respond in the same way as she did, to show consideration that the person they’re contacting has a life outside work.”

“This was your problem not hers, and now she’s lost an opportunity.” ~ ginaribena94

“I talk to my manager that way and I know fine that I’m just interrupting her watching TV at home.”

“It’s a professional courtesy that is easy to do and doesn’t indicate anything about my readiness for the role.” ~ horribad54

“YTA. She’s trying to be professional and not assume preference because your daughter is her friend.”

“Firing her for being ‘too polite’ will likely inhibit the confidence you were hoping(?) to instill.” ~ arizonakarenina

“YTA. Start having coaching conversations with people face to face.”

“Texting is unprofessional and ineffective for performance management.”

“And don’t even get me started about how low it is to fire somebody over text.” ~ Fuwalda

“YTA 100% Sure her text format is annoying, but you said yourself SHE WAS DOING A GOOD JOB!”

“You were in a position to be a mentor to a young girl who sees you as an authority figure both professionally and personally as the father of her best friend.”

“You should have had a face to face discussion with her and told her that you’re really happy of her job performance, that she is building a good résumé and will soon be considered a professional in the field. But that she won’t be taken seriously as a professional if she begins every conversation with an apology.”

“You could have told a white lie and said that while you recognize that she’s trying to be respectful and polite, most people in your business won’t see it that way and won’t appreciate it.”

“If you needed to show a form of tough love, you could have simply replied ‘try again’ when she began with an apology.”

“And you fired her via TEXT?! Oh I feel awful for her.” ~ Jolly-Passenger

The OP returned with an update.

“Thank you everyone for the fast and very thorough a**-whooping. We do not start filming today till late afternoon.

“I have taken the judgment of this forum seriously and texted her an apology that admits my actions were absolutely counter to the confidence in her ability that I wanted her to have.”

“I have asked her to please come back to finish the remainder of the shoot with us and told her I would reimburse the couple of lost hours from last night.”

“I especially need to apologize to the other posters who accused me of being a faux feminist, I was not intending to pretend my feminism and I do genuinely want her to succeed because I believe she has the potential to be a great filmmaker.”

“Thank you for calling out my bullsh*t.” ~

“I am waiting now to see if she is willing to accept my apology and return to the position.”

The OP later added:

“She is coming back this evening.”

“I called her mom too after the text message to her and explained that I only wanted to make her a better member of the team but accepted the way I did made me an a**hole instead.”

“I will talk with her tonight before shooting in hopes to undo any damage to her confidence I caused last night.”

While the OP didn’t initially handle things well, they were willing to accept judgment and act on it.

And a manager who is willing to do that can turn a toxic workplace around.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metis Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. She considers herself another proud Maineiac.
Member of NAJA.