When my daughter graduated from elementary school and moved up to the local junior high school, she moved with the cohort that had, largely, been together since kindergarten.  As anyone with teenage girls knows, those years can be fraught with hormonal, social and political storms. One late autumn day she came home visibly upset and frustrated, unusual for someone with normally great equanimity.  The story that emerged had to do with one of her lifelong friends who, in the thrall of teenaged mean girlhood, had mounted a campaign to encourage others to shun my daughter. Classic.  Having experienced my two sons’ high school transitions, I was far more accustomed to bloody noses and black eyes, not the cold shoulder method of establishing dominance amongst females.

That’s when it occurred to me: why couldn’t we adapt what I did for clients, creating strategic communications plans, and turn it into a personal, small-scale strategy for dealing with this particular crisis?  I sat her down with a cup of tea and began to assess the situation. 

First, what is the overall objective being sought?

“I want her to die.”

Okay, perhaps something more achievable?

“We don’t have to be friends anymore, but I want her to stop trash-talking me to everyone else.”

Based on that tangible goal we began to evaluate the other considerations such as Who:  should I call her mother? Ridiculous!  Would she be alone or with other friends?

How: would they talk face to face? On the phone? Via text or email?

What: what words and phrases would bring her closer to the mark and which (“greasy-haired anorexic”) would guarantee failure?

And finally, Where and When?

Although she gave every impression that I was oh so eye-rollingly lame, later that evening I found some scribbled notes by the downstairs phone, an indication that she had taken some of the advice to heart.

Joanna Piros