I wrote this post a few years ago, but thought it was worth re-posting. Recently on a business trip I had a tired, weary eyed businessman sit next to me in the airport as we waited for our airplanes to arrive. I had sat in a nearby gate area across from my boarding vicinity since there were more chairs available in this section. As we waited, I could not help from overhearing a phone conversation this gentleman was having with his boss next to me on his cell phone.
I heard him call his superior Judy, and proceed to explain how tired and exhausted he was from his traveling. This man asked if he could fax some papers in the morning and if they could discuss this situation from his office. He went on to explain to Judy that when she had all of the documentation in front of her and he could explain his side of the story it would make more sense. Evidently this wasn’t good enough for Judy.
She continued to discipline her worker to no avail. Surprisingly, this conversation must have continued on for 15 to 20 minutes (or longer). In fact, my boarding call was announced and as I stood in line to leave the airport I glanced back to see the gentleman still on the phone with a sad defeated look on his face.
There were two things that made an impression on me about this businessman that day. First, he never lost his temper with Judy. He always spoke with respect in responding to her demands and threats, and remained professional during the entire conversation. Second, he tried several times to explain to Judy that this was not the right time or place for him to discuss this problem. Finally, he admitted responsibility for the situation, and said he would take whatever consequences were due him.
I’ve never met Judy, but I can tell you this, if I was a supervisor for that company, I would take the man in the airport over Judy any day! Why? Because he admitted and accepted the blame, and he wanted to keep the client happy by offering the incentives he did. I also appreciated his calm and professional personality he displayed to Judy during this phone conversation. I wondered how many other people would have been so calm and collective to a supervisor who talked to them as Judy did that day.
The lesson from today’s writing is two-fold:
First, if you are in a management authority position, never reprimand a worker in public, and especially from a cell phone conversation.
Second, if you become wrapped up in a confrontational issue with a colleague or boss take the advice from this unknown business traveler and remain calm, patient and professional at all times.
As Greg Anderson, former NBA former forward/center for the San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks said, “although our inattention can contribute to our lack of total well-being, we also have the power to choose positive behaviors and responses. In that choice we change our every experience of life!”