“Don’t affix the blame, fix the problem.”-Sean Connery in the movie Rising Sun
Technology is great when it works. When it doesn’t, it can eat time and generally piss us off. I received an email from Google regarding my G-Suite, and it went to a different email than I believed I had used to set up the account. I searched everywhere (I thought) to find where I may have entered that email as a contact email. I found it, changed it, and then I got another email to the same “wrong” account! By now I am fuming–there’s so many pages to look through, the Admin console, the Profiles, etc. So I decide to send them an email to ask for help.
What really interested me when I did this was that they asked me how I was feeling about the situation–concerned? angry? frustrated? I thought that was unusual. I chose “frustrated”. A few hours later I received a phone call from Google. Yes, a phone call. On a Sunday. The very polite man took me right to the area that showed the old email, helped me change it, and sent me a test email. Resolution! It was handled efficiently and professionally, and most importantly, civilly. His politeness dissipated my frustration, and the problem was resolved.
How do you react when something goes wrong? The restaurant screws up your order. The babysitter cancels. Traffic is snarled because of an accident. Do you take to social media and go on a rant? Tell everyone you know how terrible that restaurant is? Never call that babysitter again? You get the idea. We are becoming hardwired to expect everything to go swimmingly, and when it doesn’t we GO BONKERS. But does that really change or rectify the situation? Prepare us for the next time something goes wrong? Do you vent and let go, or do you find yourself fuming for days?
My immediate reaction when something goes wrong is to get emotional. But before I let those emotions take over, I kick my empathy into gear. In the restaurant example, maybe the chef was rattled after being in an accident rushing to work because his babysitter cancelled and he had to scramble to find another. That helps to put things in perspective. If I was in the same situation as the chef, would I maybe mess up a meal or two? How would I want others to treat me if I was the one responsible for the errors? I would want to be treated just like the Google help desk treated me.
So how can you be prepared to act civilly the next time you feel “wronged, disappointed, or underwhelmed by what you’ve been handed”? When you find your blood pressure rising: 1) take a breath; 2) put down your phone; and 3) before responding ask yourself the following questions:
- What forces may have contributed to this unwelcome outcome? Was it malice or an accident?
- What is the best path to rectify the situation and achieve your desired results? (Hint: it probably doesn’t involve anything in all caps or a verbal screaming match)
- Commit to a limited amount of time and resources to correct the situation, then move on and let go.
Don’t hold yourself hostage to the inevitable disappointments that surround us. Keep your standards high, and remember that standards mean nothing if they cost you your civility.