The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions

A few months ago a representative from a local organization called me. She was very interested in having me perform for one of their events. She expressed how she was touched by my story in a recent edition of Christian Living Magazine. Our conversation ended with her wishing “Blessings!” upon me. Little did I know what road those good intentions would take me on. Watch your words got real.

Just before we ended of our conversation, I told her I would check my schedule and get back to her with answers to her questions about my availability and performance fee.

She gave me no clear time frame for when I needed to get back to her. It was a hectic week, so I got back to her 2 days later. Given what else was going on that week, I felt good about my turnaround time.

Feeling pleased with myself, I called her phone number and found myself listening to an answering machine that warmly invited callers to go ahead and please call her cell.

So I did. Within a minute, my eyebrows rose like Spock’s.

When she answered the phone I politely asked if this was the individual who had contacted me Wednesday. She said, “Yes.” Okay…kind of abrupt tone. I then inquired on whether this was a convenient time to talk. She replied, “Well, I am in the grocery store right now, so just go ahead and give it to me straight.”

Startled by this response, I hesitated for just a moment. My goal, of course, was to watch my words. Before I had barely begun she interrupted me, reprimanding me for not getting back to her sooner. She stated that “the board had already called” her yesterday wanting to know the update, but that she had no information from me to give to them.

In spite of this, I politely continued stating my answers to her questions. She ended the conversation by saying, “If the board is interested I will give you a call. Otherwise you won’t be hearing from me.” Click.


A Respectful Reply

Not willing to absorb this less than pleasant experience, the next day I sent an email to the headquarters of this organization (in Kansas City, Missouri) informing them of my experience.

I made it clear that the individual representing their organization, here in Idaho, wasn’t doing a very good job and that I thought they would want to know this.

After such a negative experience I doubted whether I would even get a response. But that wasn’t really the point of me writing to them. I sent the e-mail for these three reasons:

  • If there was a more socially skilled human being in a leadership position within the organization, then they would want to know what happened so that they could address the problem. Organizations—and the people in them—aren’t psychic and can’t know all that is going on, especially if communication within the organization isn’t a well oiled machine.
  • I figured if it happened to me you can bet your behind it has happened to others and would continue to do so unless someone alerted them. I didn’t want anyone else to go through the same experience I had.
  • My experience stung and was uncalled for. I didn’t deserve to be treated that way. I knew that the best way to take care of myself was to validate my feelings by communicating about what had happened to me to “the powers that be.” Frankly, it was a darn good letter I wrote, too. Polite. Clean. Direct. Again, it was important to me to watch my words.

Shock and Awe

Watch Your Words tooTo my surprise, the following Monday morning I received an email from the director of the local organization. She clearly expressed how sad she was about my experience and inquired who the volunteer was that I had spoken to.

She also expressed a desire to meet with me, buy me coffee and chat. So the following day we met.

The director insisted on coming all the way across town to meet with me. It was clear she was on a mission to make things right.

She clarified for me that the goal of the local arm of the national organization was to make a positive impact in our community. She also made it clear that part of her job was to oversee this particular group, to help the ladies change their “holier than though” attitude that seemed to have developed over the years. She expressed that it was quite a challenge to turn this group around.

Having had a career working with individuals in a similar setting myself, we found much in common to laugh about. We had a wonderful discussion and I look forward to meeting with her again soon.

Wow. What a difference attitude and presentation can make.

Watching our Words and Attitude Makes all the Difference

If we aren’t careful we can allow our feelings to take control of our mouths. We have to be mindful, especially these days, as our personal and professional lives overlap. Many of us no longer clock-in and clock-out like Fred Flintstone did at Slate Rock and Gravel Company.

We can’t let our bad moments hijack our ability to respectfully communicate and listen to people. (This was a problem Fred struggled with daily.)

A counselor once told me, “ The way you experience a person’s behavior says much more about them than it does about you.”

5 Important ?s to Ask Ourselves

Let’s turn this situation around. What if we are the ones behaving badly? We need to stop and ask ourselves:

  1. What am I saying about myself?
  2. How well am I representing my faith and belief system?
  3. How am I representing my own family?
  4. How am I representing the organizations I believe in?
  5. How am I representing my business?

Plus 3 Even More Important Questions

  1. How am I speaking to this person?
  2. Am I really listening to them right now?
  3. Do I need to call them back at a time where I can be more focused and less distracted or irritated?

Pausing and asking ourselves these questions can make a huge difference in our relationships at home, work, and in our community.

If your goal is to leave a positive footprint here on planet Earth, keep these questions at the front of your mind. If you do you will have a much better chance at making the world a better place. Just watch your words!

What’s your story? Join in the conversation. We’ll be glad you did.

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