It all started with the line, “No offense…but…”
What he wrote wasn’t offensive. That phrase, however, is obnoxious. That line flicked the domino over and set in motion the events of the next two days.
The “no offense” comment was in response to me sending some suggestions to my website designer. As part of my feedback, I meticulously recorded five Loom videos explaining my requests. He got a five page Google doc outlining each point. I drew mockups and diagrams in an attempt to be as thorough as possible.
“No offense, but…” came shortly after I sent my email. Then for two days…nothing. No viewings of my videos. No reaction to my documents. I get it, two days isn’t a long time, but this guy is normally an immediate responder. We did have a call scheduled for later in the week.
NATURALLY, over the course of those two days, I…
- Looked at that long doc and decided, “Screw this. What do I really need to get this thing live?” and took my 90 points down to 10 declaring in my head, “I can do the rest myself!”
- Called two friends to talk through my approach and how I should handle it if he said, “Enough is enough! This is not what we agreed to!”
- Considered alternatives for finding a new webdesigner.
- Plotted with another friend how I could make the site live and then deny him access.
- Prepared for the call by working through my difficult conversation framework
- Muttered to myself and moaned in my head and journaled about how much I hate writing website copy and dealing with it and all of the things.
It was time for the call. I centered myself. I had my notes prepared. I had my agenda and my lines ready. I was ready for him to tell me my corrections were too much. I was too much. I didn’t need to micromanage him.
Zoom call started. The first five minutes of the call happened…it was intense…from his side.
“Hey Erin, I’ve been dealing with a website that got hacked. Someone posted 6000 blogs of the Russian-bride type and they just now noticed. It’s a disaster and I’ve been putting out these fires!”
SHOCKINGNLY, his lack of response had nothing to do with me at all. He complimented me on my thoroughness. He had reviewed the document and liked the sound of my changes. We had a productive conversation about the why and why not around some of the content.
It’s our story that creates our suffering.
I had decided that he was done with me, found me annoying, found me too detailed, and it was going to be this big thing and I was going to have to fire him. I had decided that the tone of his email eliminated all of his credibility, his talent at web design, his expertise.
The reality? It had nothing to do with me. At all.
The stories and narratives in our head we create lead to our actions, which impact the outcomes.
My stories led to actions which swooped people in to my drama, took a lot of energy, and had me worked up for a large portion of the day of the call.
Alternatively, I could have read his email. Been rightly aggrevated about the, “No offense” comment. Realized that is his style–and that’s on him and has nothing to do with me. Gone about my business and wrote a new story along the lines of, “It’s going to work out just fine.”
Our stories create our suffering. It’s a moment, a comment, a look, a tone, a sideways glance that can trigger us authoring creative, and unhelpful narratives.
Next time you find yourself taking all sorts of preventative actions for things that may or may not happen, or spinning tales that serve to fire you up and build a case–for an argument that may or may not exist, check your story. Check your narrative. Ask, “Is this real?” and if you don’t know for sure, have the conversation and then decide.