Don’t Pick Up The Phone

I’ve been swamped at work and I really don’t see it getting any less busy/stressful until after Christmas. I have four events that I am juggling volunteers for while still maintaining all my regular day to day work. Add to that directors wanting reports proving I am actually doing what they are paying me to do, a new work study employee to train, and a mountain of files that need to be processed and I’m drowning at my desk. I haven’t taken lunch in a week and oftentimes I don’t remember to eat until it’s almost 2pm. Because of this, answering my phone is not my top priority. Every time I pick up that receiver it makes more work for me. I just can’t take one more thing.

I made the mistake of answering my phone yesterday and for that, I was accosted with an angry woman. After my customary greeting she launched in tersely, “Hi. This is _____. I just got your email. I am VERY unhappy.”

Great. Here we go.

You see, I made a mistake. This is hard for me to admit. I. Made. A. Mistake. Of course I make mistakes from time to time but I really don’t make that many when it comes to my job. But this time I did and I admitted as much in the email I sent her. I overbooked on an event and I can’t utilize her group of volunteers.

Here’s the thing about me: I don’t treat people who have money or know someone high up at my agency any different than I treat anyone else. Why? Because that shit doesn’t matter to me. Because I am friendly and nice and good at my job with every person I come in contact with. I don’t do fake. I don’t kiss anyone’s ass. It’s not in my personality.

But I am often asked to engage in this behavior and frankly, it turns my stomach. Do I want this person to be mad at me? No, of course not. Do I feel sorry I made an error? Totally! Is there anything I can do to make her happy? I’m thinking the answer is a big N-O on that one.

I spent over an hour trying to do damage control- running around the office admitting I made a mistake (over and over to different people which is both humbling and humiliating) whilst trying to come up with a solution that appeases Pissy McPisserson. The thing is, at this point, I’d almost rather just have her be mad at me then any of the alternatives I have come up with. And I might just have to live with that. . . as much as I loathe the thought of someone not being happy with me.

And there’s where I need to do some serious work. People are not always going to like me nor is everyone going to be happy with what I do/say all the time. This is life. How I deal with these sorts of situations both internally and externally says a lot about my character.

Another opportunity for character building. Gee, thanks Universe.

“You collapse/pressure of this life is so/you can be held accountable/if you go, you go/if you go you go/when you act like this/when you get so sick/of yourself the whole world falls away/in sense I feel like I/have only missed that I’m here again/the feeling that I’m clear again. . .” -Ten Years Ago, Tegan and Sara

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26 thoughts on “Don’t Pick Up The Phone

  1. oh yuk, I HATE admitting when I’m wrong. I tend to just sit quietly and hope no one will get me to say the words when it does happen :/

  2. I am sorry that happened cause I know how badly it sucks! But do you know how much character it takes to admit to effing up? A lot. Plus you got to be reminded that people pleasing is never a good idea because who cares if some stuffy bitch in spectator pumps and grandma lipstick likes you 😉

  3. Oh, for god’s sake — people (the woman on the phone, not you) need to get some perspective. People make mistakes. Don’t be evil about it. Karma exists.

  4. I know this situation well: in the non-profit world, big donors hold the power. Their money excuses them from being assholes, and as fundraisers, we have to bend over backwards to please them because, well, we need their money.

    It sucks!

  5. I’ve been in your shoes. Sometimes, I just want to dig in my heels and stand up for what I did… but alas, office (or client) politics set in, and you have to acquiesse. BAH!!

  6. I think what’s even worse than admitting that you made a mistake is having to apologize for someone else’s mistake/laziness.

    In my current employment situation, I’m constantly on the phone. The majority of the time, I’m there to perform damage control and make nice with everyone. I’m good at it, but it can definitely bring you down trying to please everyone.

    And then there are those fuckers that expect better treatment because they’ve got some fancy title or have loads more money. I have a special voice for those people…it’s called my most sweetest, nicest, passive aggressive tone I can provide.

  7. Oh gosh I think I know her, or at least her temper tantrum acts like a two year old spoiled rich twin. yuck.

    That thing about you…
    -I don’t treat people who have money or know someone high up at my agency any different than I treat anyone else.-
    I think that is totally awesome.

  8. Ok, first of all, put yourself into the position of those people you are running around admitting you made a mistake to. If someone came to me and said, “You know what? I messed up.” Or even further, “I’m gonna need some help trying to fix it!” I would think nothing of it. I’d try to help if I could, and then move on with things. Because, like most people, I make mistakes, too. And I always, ALWAYS appreciate when someone is willing to (a) admit to it, and (b) try to fix the problem instead of just brushing it aside and pretending like nothing ever happened.

    I used to work at a place where my mistakes effected people’s income. When I made them, I felt BAD. But as soon as I admitted to the mistake (often offering to try to give them a loan out of my own bank account in order to help them until their proper pay came through – no one ever took me up on that, though), people were always much more calm about the whole situation.

    If Pissy wants to stay pissy, that’s her own issue. You’re doing what you can. That’s all people should really ask of you.

  9. That’s the realy crappy thing about a non-profit I found. One of our biggest donors (who was ditching us at the end of the year btw) insulted some of our staff members REALLY badly. For things out of their control. It was rude and nasty. And our boss said, “We don’t want to make her mad: there is a chance we’ll get money again.” We never did… but it was an eye-opening experience for me. I wanted that job sooooo badly and was thrilled when I got it. Suddenly though, I saw the negative side of non-profit work, and honestly, I wasn’t too pleased to be a part of that.

  10. Everyone makes mistakes. Kudos to you for even trying to fix it! You have some options and if Pissy doesn’t like them, then that’s not your fault. You tried, and that’s the best you can do. You are still a good person, and it’s too bad if Pissy doesn’t recognize that.

  11. She just sounds like a bitch who needs to get a life. Funny how some people seem to get on their high horse even more when you admit you made a mistake. I wouldn’t bother with the ‘damage control’ either with telling everyone you made a mistake. Unless you had to of course to try fix the situation.

  12. Oh man, I wouldn’t worry too much sizzle, she sounds unhinged. There’s a huge difference between being confrontational for its own sake and dealing with problems in a solutions based way – which is what it sounds like you’re doing.

    I deal with people like this in the same way I deal with toddlers: give them options. Saying your sorry may leave her wanting to blast you, but apologizing quickly and sincerely and then offering Options A and B immediately (maybe getting an all star volunteering role at the next event, or helping with another aspect of the same event- and following up with a hand written thank you card in either case) can re-direct their anger really effectively.

    It sounds like you managed it really well – but like she has areas of her life that aren’t fun and are causing her to funnel her anger towards you.

  13. Proud of you for admitting you are wrong. 99% of the arguments in my life (especially my marriage) come from my complete inability to admit when I make a mistake.
    Pissy McPisserson needs to realize that you are human and humans make mistakes and get off your case.

  14. No matter what you do, there are people who won’t like you. Even if you were perfect, there are people who would hate you for being perfect. In fact, I hate perfect people. See?

  15. Ugh… my husband and I have been discussing this same issue – a$$hole clients… for a few days now. And we can’t figure them out, OR what we should do. 😦

  16. As IT director of a large company, I get 10+ telemarketing calls a day. So I don’t answer the phone much. We created an extension, x2727 (CRAP spelled out on phone) that says “thank you for calling, but please note we do not take calls of this nature. take us off your calling list blahblahblah” repeats and then hangs up.

  17. You know, I hate when people make a huge deal out of your mistakes… its not like we all dont make them! I find at work I try to fix them first or at least have a plan of attack for fixing the mistakes and then when I tell my boss I can say hey, I did this and this is what I am in the middle of doing about it… usually works for me!

  18. Fessing up to a mistake is bad enough – but it’s way worse when it’s to some obnoxious jerk! I’ve been there too and it was no fun at all!

  19. Garrision Keillor once said, “when the phone rings, you never know who it’s going to be. It could be your true love, it could be some schlump selling furnace filters.”

    Hence, why I don’t pick up the phone.

  20. The wisest thing my father ever told me was that if you make through this life without at least some of the people not liking you, you haven’t done much. He meant, that if I spent my whole life being so bland and safe that no one disagreed with me, then I hadn’t really done much living at all.

    Funny thing is, he doesn’t remember saying it, but, every time I remind him of it, he grunts his approval.

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