I'll be honest - I'm not the calmest, most rational person you'll meet. Just today I had a near melt down after reading the subject line of an email. (Just take my word that I was able to read the subject lines but wasn't able to access the emails.) I'd been planning for several weeks to go on a weekend trip with a friend, so when I saw the subject line "I've changed my plans" ...well, I immediately came to the conclusion that the weekend was over.
My mind started racing....why would the plans change? Am I just not that important? What about the appointments I'd turned down to keep our weekend? What about last weekend, when you also decided to change plans...are you avoiding me? Did I do something to upset you? What's going on?
At first, I felt like I had done something wrong to cause it....then realizing I hadn't....I became offended. My heart was racing, I wanted to punch something. It would be 3 hours before I would have full email access....and I knew that would give me plenty of time to work up a mean spirited email reply in my head!!
Then my better senses kicked in (it took a good 3 minutes). I didn't have all the information....what if the change of plans was reasonable? So I called to get the full information before my imagination ran any wilder.
"Hi, so, um, I can't read the email yet, but I see that you wrote me an email titled 'change of plans'...what's that about?"
"Um....you need to read your email more often."
"I wrote you that email last weekend, when I had to change plans."
"Are we still on for this weekend?"
Turns out, I was the guilty party. I missed an email buried in the spam and advertisements my personal account receives. Not only was this weekend still on, but last weekend was completely explained!
We are all prone to making emotional snap judgments. Clients write ambiguous emails, miss appointments, ask unusual questions, or a dozen other things that cause us to immediately start fuming. The longer we stew over it and try to come up with our own explanations, the more upset we become. And lets face it, even when we find out that we were wrong...we still hang on to that emotional scar. We're still hurt, whether we had a right to be or not.
So when you feel your blood pressure rising and a million possibilities are running through your mind...give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Give them a call and ask clarifying questions. Try to postpone reacting to the situation ...at least until you really understand what the situation is.
Now if I could only find time to do some laundry before I leave for the trip....
All the best,
Your Chance To Personally Learn From Joe McNally
2 hours ago