Have you noticed it’s the always about the little things?
Last week, I had a late-in-the-day Zoom appointment with a gent in the US. I waited a decent length of time, and still, he did not show. Truthfully, I admit to needing to find the time to catch up on ‘Zoom etiquette for lateness.’ Instead, I dashed off this quick note.
‘Waited for you for 25 minutes. Either there was some backend tech breakdown, or something calamitous happened. Please advise next steps.’
Within 20 minutes, he responded, saying he had just got in from taking his daughter to a doctor’s appointment, had not realized he had an appointment at this time, apologized profusely and asked for a re-do.
I promptly replied. It’s always Family First in my books. So here’s the window I have to chat tomorrow. I hope your kiddo is healthy.
Here is what I was thinking privately as I waited for him to appear on the Zoom call.
Twenty-five freaking minutes!!! Good lord. Is that not long enough to wait? Hey man, you look like a jerk here. Did you overbook yourself? Thank gawd I was clever enough to start dinner ahead of time. It’s not like I don’t have many other things I can do right now.
Hey, wait a minute. This guy is using the same software I am. Is there some bug I am unaware of that can screw up MY reputation?
On paper, I kept it professional. Yet inside, you can see my brain cells were moving on an entirely different train track.
And I am sharing all of this because, of course, there is a point.
Here’s what happened in the first ten minutes of our conversation the following day.
“Thank you for being so gracious about the error and telling me you believe in Family First. I was really, really worried about insulting you and, frankly, anyone else I let down.
I thought a lot about that Family First statement and realized you were right and I was wrong. Honestly, I don’t want to do business with someone who doesn’t cut me some slack when I give an honest answer. Seriously, I am glad you used that term because it helped me clarify exactly who I want to deal with.”
To which I replied,
“Let me tell you something from the other side.
I learned long ago that I am ALWAYS wrong when I jump to conclusions. And when I trust that people are doing their best with what they are dealing with, I am ALWAYS right.
It’s why I prefer – even through gritted teeth — to take the high road and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. And today, you have reinforced my belief in the best of humanity. The best in people is always there when we look for it.”
We continued on with our (business) discussion.
Do you try to see the best in people all the time? I won’t sugarcoat how challenging and difficult that can feel. It’s a test of character and patience.
However, we would like others to see us favourably when life collides with what we are trying to do, wouldn’t we?
Everything always starts with us. See the best in others, and others see the best in us. The only things we need to do is choose how we wish to see.