Recently, I had a conversation with someone who rescheduled a phone call three times, misspelled my name as many times even though we’ve emailed quite often, and was late to the call when it finally did take place.
The excuse? “I have the craziest job in the world.”
Turns out this person doesn’t actually have “the craziest job in the world,” but a typical PR agency job. I listened and didn’t say anything, but thought to myself, “No, my dear. You don’t have the craziest job in the world. You have the craziest job in your world. And you forget that everyone doesn’t live in your world.”
“Oh, and your business etiquette sucks.”
I know we live in an extremely fast-paced world. And yes, the volume of work we’re expected to produce when we are connected 24/7 seems to have increased considerably since the days we weren’t (don’t worry, I won’t start singing Those Were the Days, My Friend). But to consistently blame one’s “crazy” job for constantly rescheduling meetings, inattention, and pretty much everything else seems to me to be:
1. Arrogant. You’re assuming that no one else has anything important to do, because, after all, yours is the craziest job in the world, isn’t it?
2. Rude. By constantly rescheduling, you’re sending the message that the other person’s time is not as valuable as your own.
3. Bad management. If your job’s that crazy, figure out how to make everything else work. Which means you need to put some “white space” in your calendar to fulfill your other commitments.
When I was thinking about this person, I started wondering whether I do the same. Truthfully, the answer is both “yes” and “no.”
I’m not going to pretend I’ve never rescheduled meetings/calls, or dropped the ball. I’ve done so far more often than I care to admit. You see, I used to pride myself on my time management skills, and, for the most part, I’m pretty good at it. But the last few months have been especially bad, and I’m trying to get better. Part of this, for me, is training myself to remember that “No” is not a dirty word.
But I try to pay attention (especially to the spelling of one’s name, I mean, how rude is it when someone can’t even get your name right?!) and the one thing I’ve never done is announce that mine is the craziest job in the world.
In fact, most of the people I’ve had to reschedule with have tried to make my excuse for me, by saying, “I know how busy you are,” giving me an opening to basically say just that. But that makes me feel even worse, because the fact is that everyone’s busy. And when they’d say that, I’d apologize again, making it clear that I didn’t think they were any less busy than I am.
Maybe I’m on a “no one’s less important or too small” kick. But seriously, if we’re going to let ourselves think ours is the only job that matters, or the craziest job in the world, we’re just fooling ourselves.
And sooner or later, someone will show us just how foolish we are.