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Suffering Fools PDQ

I am a owner of a small advertising agency, and have had my share of great clients, and not so great clients. One client, has been especially difficult. Lately they have gotten very demanding and a bit unreasonable for things that are out of my control and, quite often, their own fault. I’ve learned to put my foot down in a very cordial way, polite spine if you will, but there is something that really irritates me.

Recently, my client will send me requests and he is often using the term “PDQ”. In my 20 years of being in this profession, this is the first client to use this term with me. I even had to look it up, so for others who don’t know, it stands for “Pretty Damn Quick”. For instance, a 6:10am email this morning states, “I need to update my team on the following items: (list follows). This is important for you to get this to me PDQ.”

Knowing that this abbreviation stands with a swear/curse word in it, is really insulting to me. This has occurred probably 3-4 times in the last week alone. I always get back to him as quick as possible, so there is no need for this. How do I handle it? Or am I overreacting and this is more common than I think? 0213-15

Until your advertising agency is large enough so that it affords you the luxury of cherry picking your clients and customers, you need to ignore, suck it up and get on with conducting your business in as efficient, profitable and civil manner as possible.     One thing that helps me is to consider some people as fools (this is not information you share with anyone else, btw) and it is just folly to engage foolish people over their foolish ideas or ways of doing things.   You do the best you can as you would for any other client but the fool does not dictate your responses or get under your skin.

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  • C February 18, 2015, 3:14 pm

    I absolutely loathe people who end their emails with ‘ASAP’ or (now) ‘PDQ’. My former job used to be very focused on assisting our sales department (I worked in sales research, aka the numbers behind what they had to sell) and I would constantly be barraged with ‘ASAP’ requests, mostly because they couldn’t keep on top of their own timelines and with a very small group in the research department could quickly get overwhelmed. I would reply back to this client, OP, and say that you need definite deadlines (i.e. Tuesday by 4 PM, by close of business today, etc) so you can prioritize work. I even like the suggestion above about sending this to ALL clients, so no one feels like they are being singled out.

  • MPW1971 February 19, 2015, 11:47 am

    Never mind the demanding client – the author of the OP claims that their biggest objection is for someone to be using an abbreviation with a “curse word” in it. I would honestly say that they can either restrict their clientele to the most polite persons, or they need to grow a thicker skin. Even if PDQ means “pretty darned quick”, the intention of words like “darn” or “geez” or “gosh” are substitutes for actual “curses”, and some very religious people will tell you that it is just as bad because of the intention. It’s unfortunately impolite, rude, and unprofessional to deal with profanity in business, but it is going to happen, and there aren’t a lot of alternatives. Turfing a client over a non-insulting and general curse – even if they said “pretty damned quick” – is petty and can really restrict one’s business prospects. If the OP writer has a religious objection to cursing, they could indeed market themselves as a “Christian” business – and that would attract a certain, but restricted, clientele. They would, no doubt, have to charge more for their services, and they may find their work to be boring and repetitive. Their business may even fail, or they may have to branch out into other work. (I recall seeing a “Christian Supply Store” expand its business to include office supplies, because selling things like bibles, bible covers, and Christian music just didn’t generate enough income.) Even so, there is still no guarantee and I doubt that any client would accept some up-front contractual obligation to never use any one of a number of “offensive” words without knowing exactly what those are. There is a great continuum of severity in cursing and profanity, and where I would put a no-longer-acceptable and infamous racial epithet (which starts with the 14th letter of the english alphabet) at the extreme end of that scale, I would put PDQ just about at the other end of that scale. I find it difficult to believe that someone who finds PDQ to be so savage, can function in today’s world without constantly feeling offended.
    The alternative is to grow a polite spine and say that such language – when it is actually used and directed at the person – is unacceptable. I find there is a great difference between someone putting “PDQ” on an e-mail, and them calling you a “f**ing idiot” or similar. My tolerance for profanity is very high, until it is directed *at me*, in which case I have a zero-tolerance approach. In any case, I’d be more annoyed with the constant pressure to do things *instantly* than how it is phrased.

  • P February 19, 2015, 6:50 pm

    Damn is hardly a curse word, unless you’re some kind of religious nutcase, of course. Either suck it up or cut him loose as a client and quit complaining, but don’t be surprised if your business goes down the pan if you’re that picky.

    • MPW1971 February 20, 2015, 6:40 pm

      I distinctly remember seeing on “60 Minutes” that Gone With The Wind was not shown by some television stations, even after its debut on network television in 1976, because of the word “damn” in the famous final scene. While the movie had been re-released many times since 1939, it was still a sensitive issue through the 70’s and early 80’s – as much as Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” was during the major (over-the-air) network broadcast of the Super Bowl. We might not think it now, but there are still many parts of the US with such strong religious morality. Then again, in Texas – in 1997! – a town adopted “heaven-o” as its “official greeting”, because the word “hello” contains “hell”.

  • Heather February 27, 2015, 8:28 am

    Damn is a curse word, in the truest definition of swearing, and it’s incredibly rude to tell someone to do something “PDQ” whether in a personal or professional setting. It’s insulting, offensive and condescending. I would personally send the gentleman an email back telling him I was unfamiliar with the abbreviation and asking him what it meant. Hopefully once he had to write it out, he would realize how incredible boorish it is and would cease to use it.