We all have that sister in our chapter who is loud, opinionated, and sometimes just downright difficult. The usual excuse is that it’s only because of how passionate she is about the chapter, but since when is having passion an excuse for being rude and obnoxious? Of course you love and respect her, and you value her love for the chapter, but just because she speaks the loudest doesn’t always make her right. It’s hard to break it to her, but sometimes her ideas totally suck. Here are some tips to make the conversation a little bit easier to handle and to help her to not freak out while your criticize her.
1. Do A Gut Check
Before you confront your sister, ask around a little bit and see if some of your other sisters agree with you about her idea being totally terrible. You can do it in a way that doesn’t seem like bashing or going behind her back–just conduct a quick poll to get some feedback. That idea for the recruitment skit? Yeah, it’s the cheesiest thing you’ve ever heard of, most of your sisters agree, and something needs to change.
2. Do It In Person, One-On-One
Tough conversations are always better in person, and with this tough cookie, she is bound to get defensive and offended quickly. Have the conversation in person and also one-on-one or in as small a group as possible. Whatever you can do to ensure she feels like she isn’t being ganged up on will make the conversation that much easier. There’s a reason people don’t like to go to standards meetings.
3. Reference Research Or Facts
However you present this, odds are that her feelings are going to be hurt, because she feels her passion is “unparalleled” and her ideas (even the bad ones) come from that passion she has for the chapter. To question her ideas is to question her passion, and that can hurt. One way to lessen the impact on her feelings is by citing facts, research, or referencing a content expert. If it’s about logic, you can make it less personal. For example, maybe that T-shirt needs to change because it’s hard to read and that’s bad marketing for the chapter. Doesn’t that sound better than saying it’s hideous?
4. Give Constructive Ways To Fix It
Telling a sister she’s wrong without providing direction or guidance will make it a lot harder for her to make it right. Come prepared with a couple suggestions of ways she can improve that date party theme with ideas like better favors or a different location. Don’t push your ideas on her, but offer them as possible alternatives.
5. Remind Her How Much She’s Appreciated
We’re big fans of the “sandwich method” of criticism, which is that you start with a positive, then say the negative, and finish with another positive. Tell her how excited you are for whatever it is that she’s working on, give your feedback or suggestion, and then thank her for all her hard work. At least she’s trying, which is more than you can say for some of your sisters, and you need to remember that you’re all essentially volunteers doing the best job you can. Sometimes, that makes criticism even harder to take. She’s doing a better job than that sister who never shows up.
6. Ask Your Advisers To Help
If you try all of these tactics and your sister still isn’t getting it, ask an adviser for help. They can say they have a wisdom and knowledge of how other chapters have pretty much done it all (even if they don’t) and they aren’t going to have to deal with this sister glaring at them over breakfast in the morning or while you’re both straightening your hair before a night out. This should really be a last resort–don’t use your advisers to do your dirty work for you because you’re afraid to have a difficult conversation.