Oh man, did I do something stupid, embarrassing and untrustworthy today.
A colleague forwarded me a calendar invite originally sent by a client. I NEVER respond to an actual calendar invite as if it’s an email; I always respond to the actual invitation using the buttons “accept,” “reject,” or “tentative.”
But today, for reasons unknown only to whoever is in charge of the universe, I replied (I thought!!) to my colleague, regarding the client (Fred).
“…I’m so mad at Fred…seems like he hasn’t sent out all the materials we worked on last week. I am trying not to be pissed. I’m really frustrated. I’m trying to hold off getting too irate in case he did send stuff out…”
You guessed it. My response went straight to Fred.
He wrote back, “Hi Sarah, was this meant for me?”
That Gut-Punched Feeling
Ughh. As I had been writing that email, my gut was screaming at me: “You always say not to put in writing anything you wouldn’t be comfortable having the whole world read.”
You could say – I would – that the universe intervened because I had violated the “Inner Voice” rule. The Inner Voice Rule is, “Say the things you’re thinking but don’t share.” It’s where truth lies, and turbo-boosts the Intimacy component of the Trust Equation.
The Inner Voice Rule.
I groaned. Then I immediately wrote back to Fred: “I am so embarrassed. The email was meant for Julie, not you, and I’m sorry. Are you somewhere I can call you?” We spoke five minutes later.
I started: “Fred, I’m so sorry. I knew as I was typing that email that I needed to pick up the phone and call you…I’m aware I have been avoiding a conversation with you.” Fred was extra-gracious, acknowledging that he hadn’t met his commitments and that he understood where my frustration came from.
He then said, “And we’ve both been to Trusted Advisor programs,” which created a clearing for us to deal in an authentic way with the trust breakdown. We worked through things; we both left the conversation having said what we needed to say, and feeling complete (and a commitment on my part to talk to Fred next time instead of complaining to my colleague).
He sent out the materials within 15 minutes.
The Universe Kicks Butt
I’m a bit fearful of calling myself a hypocrite on a blogpost destined for internet eternity. But if I’m real about it, what I salvaged from my mess du jour is that I talk a big game about clear speaking, using Inner Voice, and sharing constructive feedback – while the truth is, I’m woefully out of practice. I choose to believe that the universe intervened today to give me a butt kick wake up call; to call me on being real and not a poser.
There, I said it.
So: what did I learn from the Universe today?
- NEVER, EVER put in writing anything you wouldn’t want shared with the world
- When what you have to say about another serves to diminish them, it’s time to either:
a) admit you’ve been a jerk and have a conversation with that person, or
b) own up and end the relationship.
- The courage to have un-had conversations leads to growth, learning and deeper trust.
- If we think of constructive feedback as “scary, bad, judgmental or otherwise” then we don’t share the most important stuff. Then all that stuff builds up and – we send stupid emails.
- If you make a mess – make it Priority One to clean it up immediately.
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Filed Under: Improving Client Relationships | Improving Employee Relationships | Trust Principles