I am the Walrus“I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together”

~ The Beatles

Indeed, we are all together. As one … working toward whatever common goal that brought you into work today.

But sometimes, in our haste, we can communicate in ways that put us at odds with our team.

Consider this scenario:
A Client Contact provides input to an internal Gatekeeper whose job it is to delegate the project to the proper Specialist to complete the task.

During a particular project, the gatekeeper accidentally hands off partial information and the project is completed improperly.

When the Client Contact notices the error, they immediately contact the Specialist directly with the ol’ “WTF” conversation.

Now we have an issue.
The Client Contact knows that the project doesn’t match the input she provided. Yet the Specialist knows he did exactly what he was asked to do. Tempers flare, the tone of the conversation gets sharp and the whole process becomes counterproductive … while the poor Gatekeeper who initially made the error is oblivious to the whole dilemma.

Sound familiar? Some version of this happens every single day.
(In fact, I’ve literally had 3 different “You have to be f’ing kidding me” moments while I’ve been writing this article.)

What can you do:

  1. Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.3 deep breaths can save you hours of work: This is vital: Slow down. Center yourself. Do not knee jerk.
  2. Email is evil: It’s super convenient and leaves a great “paper trail,” but it’s evil.  No matter how many cute pictures you add  –  🙂  – in email, your tone is heard in your read’s voice. If they are having a bad day, your written tone can be perceived differently – regardless of your intent.
  3. Empathy: “I am he as you are he as you are me…” We’re all in this together. Assume that no one is out to sabotage you or your project and that a basic error was made. Be understanding and react as you will want others to react when they feel you are in error.
  4. Smile: “I’m rubber, you’re glue.” Even kids know that, as humans, we are wired to give back what we get. When we get hostility, we respond in kind. When you approach a situation with a smile, you’ll likely get it back. Then the problem can be solved TOGETHER as opposed to adversarially

It is best summed up in a passage I recently read:

“In the case of an irritation, the recognition of the presence of the irritation, along with a smile and a few breaths will usually be enough to transform the irritation into something more positive, like forgiveness, understanding, and love. Irritation is a destructive energy. We cannot destroy energy; we can only convert it into a more constructive energy.”
~ Being Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh.

In work, or in life, we are all in this together. None of us live in a vacuum … we are one. Goo Goo G’Joob, man!

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