“A ‘How are you?’ would have been nice”.
I learned a hard lesson back in April, when my business-like tone in a text exchange upset a friend of mine who was doing me a favour. I had asked this friend to review the manuscript of my new book and was replying to her text telling me that she was being furloughed, had a stack of work to complete first and might struggle to get her thoughts to me in time.
I didn’t mean to be blunt or unfeeling in my response, which acknowledged the delay and asked whether she could get back to me by the end of the month. Reading it back, I can understand why she was upset with me. I didn’t express any sympathy for her being furloughed, ask how she was or what I could do to help. I just focused on what I needed from her.
This wasn’t a standalone case. In the first couple of months of lockdown I upset three or four people, that I know of. Just by being business-focused in my communication with them.
I didn’t stop to think about what was happening in the worlds of the people I was speaking to
That’s not typical of the way I usually engage with others, at least I certainly hope not. I was so wrapped up in my own world, working out how to ensure my business survived the lockdown, as well as working on two books, that I didn’t stop to think about what was happening in the worlds of the people I was speaking to.
And this was probably my biggest takeaway from the last year. Maybe it was typical of my usual communication, I just hadn’t noticed before because the world isn’t usually so volatile. It’s so easy to be caught up in our own priorities and needs that we forget that we are not top of the list for others.