Note to self: Dan, don’t be a jerk!

The timing of this post could not be better for me.  I am in a reflective mood today as I try to wrap up a few things as I get a few more up and running before the start of the holidays.  I have had the good fortune to see and meet many people in my life and it really amazes me how stupid I can be on certain occasions.  I thought I would open the door a little wider today so that you can learn what NOT to do as you grow and advance in your career.  While the things I will describe are all true, I am fortunate that none of them have come back to scar me for a long period of time.  For that I am extremely blessed.  Hang on!

Situation #1

I enter a room of colleagues at a luncheon and I see a person I worked with on a project a few years ago.  I had tried to contact this person a few times afterward with little success.  We make eye contact and I go over and shake his hand.  My next comment is this: “Did you get your phone fixed?”  He peers back at me in confusion to ask, what do you mean.  My reply is this; “It must have been broken because you have never returned my call.”  I did pull him aside later that day to apologize, but what a callous thing for me to say.

Situation #2

This one has some age to it, but I remember it just like it was yesterday.  I sit at a table with a group of professionals from a community not far from where I live.  I introduce myself and then ask them the following rhetorical question:  “How does it feel to live in the second best community in our region after <blank, where I happen to live>?”  What a jerk (insert stronger word as you see fit) I was to make such a boastful and divisive statement!  I suspect most of them disregarded me as a peon with no emotional intelligence.  What was I thinking?

I suspect the two of these are enough for today.  Can you believe people still speak to me?

Thankfully I live in a world where people forgive and forget.  I have not forgotten and I try to listen twice as much as I speak, especially as I get older-more experienced.  In addition I try to have more empathy when others make similar statements.  When I do I always think back to these two instances as well as other gaffes I have made in my life.

What is the point of this post?  For me it is this:

  • Think before you speak
  • Do not always try to be clever
  • Find a commonality when meeting new people
  • Know your place
  • Find something good to say about the person you are talking with

Some of you will laugh, some will shake their head and others will hopefully show pity on me.  Life is a series of experiences where we grow and develop and some of the best lessons come from circumstances that at first were not the best or most comfortable.

I have learned from both of these situations, but the classroom is always open.

Go out and lean something today.

Don’t be a jerk!