Distracted and Misperceived

By Linda Miller

Early last week, I did one of the worst jobs of coaching that I’ve ever done. That was my humble assessment. I was distracted by a dog who needed to go out, by my early morning need for a cup of tea, by other morning happenings in the house, and the list goes on. Basically, I didn’t feel present on the call. What’s worse, I intended to write a note of apology immediately after we hung up, but I was distracted and didn’t get it done. Until 4 full days later.
On Friday, I was fed up with myself. I couldn’t believe 4 days had passed and I hadn’t sent an apology. I couldn’t believe that distractions had interfered yet again. So, I sat myself down and wrote the needed email. It was short. Here’s how it went:
“You have been on my mind hundreds of times since our call earlier this week, and I am sorry not to have emailed sooner. I want to apologize for the distractions and the quality of the last call. I take full responsibility for it. I am also very chagrined at having several days pass before emailing. Please forgive me for both offenses.”
I definitely felt better having written it, until I started wondering how she would respond. I trembled. I prayed. I tried to think of gifts that would make everything right. And then, late on Friday, I received the following response:
“Oh my goodness, perception is really something else. That was the best call ever! That call sprung me to action, and I attacked everything on the list of things we discussed, with gusto. I was on a roll after that call! Your distractions were not even noticeable to me. You got me on the missions I needed to get on. THANK YOU!!!”
What a tremendous and humbling surprise. My perception of the call was totally different than her experience.
Learnings:
• Even if I haven’t done the terrible thing I think I’ve done, clean it up if something seems off. There may be a huge gift in the cleaning up process.
• Be careful with judgments, of others….and of ourselves. How often do we judge ourselves better than or more harshly than what’s perceived by others?
• Pay attention to the still, small voice that may have a purpose different than expected. In this situation, the email exchange cleared things up and made a much more lasting bond than if I’d ignored that still, small voice.
• Beware of distractions!

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