Relationships: An Arizona guy’s perspective

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An Arizona guy’s perspective

Dear Dirk,

I am taking a shot in the dark that a misogynist like you would surely have some advice when it comes to family gatherings and grilling in particular. My brother-in-law is a condescending and rude individual. He’s constantly over my shoulder criticizing not just my grilling techniques, but also my clothing, mannerisms, and general air of speaking. He tells me that I don’t know what I’m doing and offers to take over for me so the food isn’t ruined. It takes all of my willpower to keep from slapping him across the jaw with a medium rare porterhouse. Do you have any terrible advice on how should I handle being around him during family functions? Thanks!

––Slap Happy Griller


Hi Slappy,

Thanks for writing. It means so much to us here at NVM that you all keep the questions rolling in. Honestly, my first reaction was to tell you to slap the man with a steak, but you beat me to the punch. In lieu of wasting a porterhouse and potentially having to explain to your wife why her brother is asleep in the lawn during supper, perhaps a subtler approach is needed.

I’m the grill champion of my house, too, which is not to say I don’t make mistakes. I have served some iffy chicken over the years, and believe you me, those salmonella infected guests still haven’t let me live it down. Be humble, and challenge the bugaboo to a Grill Off. Invite the neighborhood to judge, and have a trophy made up at a local shop (or print a certificate from your laserjet) which clearly states that the winner should have unimpeded grilling rights and isn’t to be bothered by a substandard grill groupie. This should eliminate his condescending behavior altogether and establish you as the ultimate “pack leader” at family gatherings.




People respect a strong, clear, and fair leader. Fail to establish this position for yourself, and others could feel obligated to test and challenge your position. Try these four suggestions to establish yourself as the alpha.

Be benevolent, but tough: Act like a tough “dog.” Tough, but kind. And, always be fair and never get angry. People intuitively understand what’s fair and what’s not.

Be the model leader: An alpha behaves with confidence, authority, dignity, and intelligence, and takes time to weigh options before making a move.

Only make commands, comments, and bets that you can follow through on––and always follow through. This goes for things both big and small. For instance, if you say to an employee, “I’ll give you the day off if you can finish this project by Friday,” you best be prepared to remember your deal and follow through. If you don’t, people will start to distrust you, and no one stays loyal to a distrustful alpha.

Praise warmly, well, and quickly: Notice people’s good efforts and let them know you’ve noticed. Don’t be insincere or draw out the praise. Be succinct and to the point quickly, leaving the recipient crave more praise of your praise.

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