Thursday, October 02, 2014

Opps, I did it again

I learned the fine art of sarcasm from a master, my dear father.  Then I studied communications and law, making me a trained professional at verbal war.  My father once said that I have "a tongue that could drop an elephant at 50 yards."  In a moment - no make that a day filled with - frustration that I described as chasing idiots, I let loose yesterday and "crushed" someone with just a one paragraph.

This started with looking at a calendar and sending an email request.  I have a big meeting coming up on October 16 and 17th.  We will send a last minute details email to the attendees, normally three days before the meeting date.  Looking at the calendar, that would be Monday October 13th, Columbus Day, we are closed.  So I emailed the person responsible for sending the email and said, we need to send the attendee emails on Friday October 10th.  She replied that she would send it on Tuesday October 14th. In a moment of supreme "kitchen sinking"* I replied in an email with 5 numbered paragraphs, each expressing my opinions on a different screw up relating to this meeting.  Paragraph number 3 went something like this:

"The attendee emails MUST BE SENT ON FRIDAY OCTOBER 10th.  About 1/3 of the 140  attendees will be attending a meeting on October 15th, I know this because I am hosting that meeting in my office.  If we send the email on the 14th, they will get it when they are at the airport, making it impossible for them to print the 17 pages we are asking them to print before they leave for the conference.  When I asked for the 10th, I had thought through this and didn't expect to have to argue or justify my request."

I went to far, I am told I scared people because a couple of paragraphs had passages all in CAPITAL letters.  Yes I was shouting, be glad you weren't in the room with me.  The above passage, sent someone blubbering to her boss, that "he thinks I am an idiot."   Opps, I didn't mean that.  I think one of her coworkers is an idiot, but the unfortunate target of that passage is actually one of the best people I have worked with on this project.

I get frustrated with debating or being asked to justify minor decisions and requests, and my collaborators on this project specialize in sweating the small stuff.  I think I will send them the classic book, "The Peter Principle" for Christmas.  One of the principles is that people spend too much time on the little decisions, because they understand the little decisions, and too little time on the major issues, because big decisions are frightening and hard to understand, so they quickly agree and move onto things within their comfort zone. How can people not know this and understand that the big issues deserve time, and on little shit, it is easier to do it the way the @sshole wants then it is to argue with him.

I don't do this often, but sometimes feel bad when I do, I write a great apology email (took a class in how to do it.) I hope I did a good job today - she was talking to me again this afternoon. In six years I have only eviscerated two people that I felt bad about.  I did it again, I wish I hadn't, I should have let someone else have the full treatment in a couple of the other paragraphs in that email - I was tired of dealing idiots.

*Kitchen Sinking, is throwing in everything including the kitchen sink when frustrated, mad or upset.  A simple rule of dealing with an angry person is to let them talk until they throw in the kitchen sink.


  1. Anonymous10/03/2014

    I get this. I see it periodically at work. My worst trait is forgetting the setting when I am verbal in my disagreement - sometimes in more or less inappropriate places or times. I'm seldom wrong in content, but perhaps delivery (as in emails) could be improved. Glad it all blew over.

    Where do you take a class in how to write an apology email?!?!?!

    Peace <3

  2. David,
    I received your comment on my blog where I "stepped in it" (inadvertently in my case). What a coincidence! In my managerial days (bank trust operations manager) I don't think I ever sent a "Kitchen Sinking" but my sarcasm was not unknown. In my present job (hotel front desk clerk, part-time) I have to watch my tendency to slip into a sarcastic answer when I'm asked for the umpteenth time "Do you have a pool?" (actually we don't, try the ocean - what I would like to say but I bite my tongue).
    I met you and I could tell right away you're a NICE GUY (yes, I'm shouting). I know you will make this right. Good post!