Danica Patrick is starting to grow on me. She’s been sort of a curiosity since she stepped onto the NASCAR scene. But truth be told, I’ve probably seen her more in her GoDaddy commercials than I have seen her when I happened to be watching a NASCAR event.
What’s brought her front and center is the recent brouhaha over Richard Petty’s comments about her skills as a driver and the chances she has of ever winning a NASCAR event. NASCAR News & Media reported Petty’s comment in response to a question at the Canadian Motorsports Expo this past weekend this way: “[Patrick] would only win a Sprint Cup Series race, ‘if everybody else stayed home.’” Ouch.
What’s Patrick’s response to this shot across her bow? "People are going to judge what he said and I'm just not going to." She comes on pretty strongly that everyone is entitled to an opinion and, generally speaking, those opinions about her generate a positive return for her. "I really feel that I like people who have opinions. That is fine with me. It creates such great conversation. The last time someone said something that wasn't so positive for me, it spawned so many positive articles. So for me, there is a positive side to it, too.”
So rather than being insulted, rather than attacking Petty, rather than getting upset, she finds the positive. She says she’s not bothered by it and won’t even pursue trying to speak to Petty about his comments or look for a retraction or an apology from him.
And that, in a nutshell, is a lesson Emily Post taught, right from the first day Etiquette was published back in 1922: Have confidence in yourself and find the positive in a situation. And that’s why Danica Patrick is starting to grow on me. She handled what could have ended up as a slanging match perfectly by turning Petty’s comments into a positive for her and not getting stressed out about his opinion. We can all take a lesson.
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About the author
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."