Have you ever heard the expression, “Before you respond, count to ten” before? In this economy I’m changing that expression to, “Before you respond, count to… tomorrow.” Counting to ten just isn’t long enough anymore.
That’s because we’re all a little raw right now. We aren’t in our second or third month of a struggling economy. Based on who you talk to, we’re in our eighteenth month of a struggling economy. This struggle has spared few of us. From the top to the bottom, we all feel it. We feel it through our actions, and reactions, and this can spell trouble.
So this week when I received a rather curt, and condescending email message from an underling working for a company I consult with telling me I had not filled out a form properly, my first reaction was to blast away. “Who does this guy think he is? Perhaps he has never heard of Rob Jolles before!” Oh, I was going to teach this person a lesson alright!
Then I counted to ten. I even counted slowly. The problem was when I got to ten the only change in attitude that I noticed was the preparation of an even angrier response. The substance of the email I received was preposterous, and it was time for someone to put this person in his place!
However, as if from a distance, I heard a voice asking me a few questions. (Okay, I didn’t really hear a voice, but go with the metaphor.)
• “Was the email you received truly malicious, or was it uninformed?”
• “Do you have any idea who this person is or connected to?”
• “Was the email that was bothering you really that bad or it that tiny ego of yours talking?”
• “Did you forget that although this might be a department you don’t have a lot of contact with, this is a department from a company that you are blessed to be working with?”
I was lucky I guess. I had one too many questions being thrown at me from my imaginary voice to release that first email I had ready to go. The last voice I heard wasn’t a question – it was a statement, and it said, “Sleep on it.”
In the morning I was in a much better frame of mind. Maybe it was the cup of coffee in my hand, or maybe it was the Redskin victory over Dallas from the night before, but I was a lot less bothered by the email I had been stewing about. I wound up simply forwarding the email on to another person who I was accustomed to working with, and focusing on the problem, and not the person. After all, I was the one who had improperly filled out a form. In the long run, everything else was insignificant.
Someday, when this economy gets us all back on track, we can all go back to counting to ten, but for now, and in the foreseeable future, I’m counting to… tomorrow.