Thursday, May 31, 2007

Physician Heal Thyself? My Big OOPS

Last week, I received a special offer by email for a copy of a free e-book showing me how to get booked on radio programs. The e-book came with a free DVD and all I had to pay was shipping for the DVD. So, I bit the hook, and purchased the shipping (but it was the wrong selection - I should have chosen shipping for outside the US). Now I have to qualify this story by explaining that I belong to a lot of e-lists because I have an insatiable thirst for information and knowledge. Several of these lists that I subscribe to have proven to be nothing more than a constant push for me to buy more informational products that are ALL guaranteed to make me rich, famous, an internet millionaire, etc. So I have learned to be skeptical and a little bit critical of much of what I receive. Okay - back to my story. So this fellow that I got the e-book from has never inundated me with emails, and I think - offers quality products. Bearing that in mind, when I received another email from him on Tuesday this week stating that my DVD would not be shipped because I didn't pay the right amount for shipping, I think I lost my sanity and threw away all rational thought for a moment or two, and sent a retaliatory email. Just to be completely transparent, here is a bit of what I wrote back to this guy:

"Sorry Alex - that sounds a bit like a scam to me - I did not see an option for any other method of shipping for the DVD - Perhaps clearer communication about the shipping payment options for US to Canada would have avoided this unfortunate situation. I suppose your next email will say something like: if I want the DVD, it will cost me so much plus the new shipping costs."

OUCH! What was I thinking? Let's deconstruct this note... "sounds like a scam" - UNFAIR JUDGEMENT. "I didn't see an option for any other method..." - That is true - I didn't see one, but it apparently was there, so My Bad, not his. "Perhaps clearer communication..." - That is also a good suggestion; however, what is the likelihood that he will implement my suggestion in light of my accusations of him being a scam artist? "I suppose your next e-mail will say something like...." That is the worst of all - Talk about your "inside voice" taking over and wreaking havoc on the world!

Fortunately for both of us, my self-righteous indignation didn't last long, as he was assertive and upfront enough to send me a reply. Here is what he said...

"You don't sound sorry at all. You sound cynical. Directly below the shipping info box in my shopping cart (for all items) is the following notice:
"Please note: If you need your order IN A HURRY, please choose FEDEX shipping ... US Mail can be slow and unreliable .... If you are outside the US, you must select Global Priority
shipping" You missed it. That's all. Why the need to get nasty with me? Comments like: "sounds a bit like a scam to me" and "I suppose your next email will say something like: if I want the DVD, it will cost me so much plus the new shipping costs" are entirely unnecessary.
I would be happy to remove you from my list if this is how you really feel about me."

Congratulations to him for staying assertive and not sinking to my level of cynicism. Without his writing back, two things would have happened: I would have continued to think I was right and justified in tearing a strip off him, and his reputation would have been eternally damaged in my eyes. In short, I would have learned nothing, and gained nothing, and he would have lost a customer. Instead, I wrote back an apology and he wrote back an acceptance of said apology. Now we can move on, and I can stop feeling like a jerk in a few more days.

While it is truly embarrassing to admit that I had such a lapse of judgement resulting in such bad behaviour, I felt the need to be transparent about this... because this blog states that nothing is sacred in the discussion of anger - not even the Anger Lady's mistakes.

1. Never judge people's actions if you don't know all the facts. Even then, preserve judgement - the one who asks the most questions wins.
2. If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all. There is no need to do or say anything that is damaging to someone else's sense of self.
3. Read the fine print! Never assume - you know what they say, it makes an ___ out of U and Me. You fill in the blanks.
4. A soft answer turns away wrath. My colleague was assertive, but gentle in his response to my tirade - and in effect, he turned my anger away. We can learn a lot from that response, but I'll save that for another entry.
5. Assertiveness works. Ask questions. Say what you think, feel, want, and need WITHOUT intentionally trying to hurt the other party. Works a lot better than accusations and a snotty attitude. Yes, I just said "snotty"...
6. Even "experts" in human behaviour have lapses in judgement. We have bad days, and we make mistakes. We are not perfect, and thanks to those who remind us that we need to practice what we preach.

Until next time...

Julie Christiansen