There are all these sayings out there that boil down to “When you seem like a threat, people aren’t going to like you.”
Don’t believe me? Type ‘haters gonna hate’ into Pinterest and watch how many different ways this has been reworked:
What I’ve always found kind of interesting is that people who talk about haters seem to have a lot more of them than the rest of us. I have a feeling talking about them adds fuel to that fire.
And that’s why I don’t talk about it…Until today.
Problem: Based on a misreading of an email I sent, a local person decided I was incompetent… and began telling everyone in town.
I found out because three people told me. (Thank you everyone who didn’t tell me at the time; my skin was a lot thinner eight years ago than it is today.) The people who told me laughed it off as they know what kind of person I am… but they also wanted to bring it to my attention.
I was very worried this was going to effect my reputation since Chatterbox (which I’ll use as a stand-in name for this story) was much more established than I was. I emailed Chatterbox back to explain what I meant in my email but it was clear an opinion had been formed. What was I going to do now that someone had already made a firm judgment?
Solution: I ignored it. It’s hard to control what someone else thinks of you so all you can do is try to clarify (if they are willing to listen), put your head down, and keep doing a good job. Guess what? It blew over.
Years later, I was having lunch with a friend whose judgement I admire who had a business relationship with Chatterbox. I asked her about Chatterbox and basically, she told me when she got her information, she always considered the source. The fact that Chatterbox did this to me was not surprising to her. Years later, Chatterbox and I continue to exist, ignoring one another. It appears the issue has officially blown over.
Values demonstrated: integrity, whatever the opposite of petty is, the ability to ignore and keep going, friendship
How this story could be better:
You know what doesn’t make a good story? De-escalating someone trying to start drama. I actually have a fair bit of non-stories like this I am proud of.
Invoking how this is a small town thing. Living in a small community, we are all forced to interact with each other in multiple ways. So you could have a heated discussion with someone at town council then run into them at the grocery store in the same 24 hours. The ‘ignoring’ thing is something we all have to do living in a small town. Maybe inserting more small town markers into this story would have made it more relateable, since many of us reading this live in small communities.
Dropping some inspiration would have been a little more… inspiring. I bought myself a copy of the Tao Te Ching a few years ago. It really helped me see my ‘let the water flow in and out’ type attitude is something worth cultivating. One way to beef up a story is to bring another way of looking at an issue from some inspirational person in the way of a quote or story. That could definitely help here. Maybe I could have grabbed one of the ones from Pinterest for this story!
Finding out who your friends are is a valuable universal (even business) theme. My friend didn’t believe this person. And I like to think that most of our clients are my friends as well. Getting that reaffirmed is a good theme. Let’s all tell more stories about how awesome our friends are. I should have gotten my friend’s permission and named her in that story.