You Can Catch More Flies With Honey Than With Vinegar

In my regular job, I make things.  It doesn’t really matter what, so let’s say I make sprockets.  So I come into work this morning ready to be an effective sprocket maker and am greeted with an email similar to the following:

“Your new sprocket has gone from useful to useless. I hate it. Don’t you people know what you are doing?”

What is your gut reaction?  Mine: “Ouch!”  In a knee jerk reaction, I might have also floated a few colorful descriptions of the bearer of this nastiness.

While I try to remember that this venom is a result of this person’s own pain, it is often difficult for me to not take things personally.  That, however, is my own battle, but it is one that many of us struggle with.

However, maybe this person was just never taught how to be nice.  Maybe they were just yelled at themselves. Maybe they feel like nobody listens to them unless they scream.  I don’t know.  But I try to remember that this little piece of meanness is coming from a person who is in pain.  So I try to not look at the outward expression, but only see/imagine the pain this person must be in, and that retracts my defenses.

So let’s step back and take a big picture, detached view of this situation:

First, we have the sprocket maker just trying to do her job. Second, we have a sprocket user who wants a change.

Now when we look closer, we see that the sprocket user has just ticked off the sprocket maker.  Now the sprocket maker is defensive and not feeling inclined to make the user happy.

So how could this situation have gone better?  Well, what was the real objective? The user wanted something different. So what about this:

“I’m a repeat user of your sprocket and have really enjoyed using your product.  However, the recent change has taken away a feature I’ve often used, so I hope you will consider reimplementing it.”

Ahhhhhh, now isn’t that better?

I share this experience because I need the reminder as much as everyone else that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar.  So be kind to one another today, and you’ll find that you’ll not only have a happier day, you’ll be more effective.

And if you are the recipient of a bit of vinegar today, see the pain in the messenger, not the expression of the pain.  No matter how much they want you to believe that the vinegar is about you, it isn’t.

Love and happiness to all. ♥

p.s. More happy gay news wrapup tonight.  Thanks for giving me the weekend off.  🙂

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 8:17 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Speaking as both the occasional recipient and (I’m ashamed to admit) giver of some vinegar, this is very important advice to remember, but there’s something else. In my own job I’ve often dealt with changes to the sprockets I use. As frustrating as these changes can be, I try to be polite and professional about them, and ask the sprocket-makers if they can explain a particular change.

    In the best situations, the sprocket-makers have explained that they were responding to requests from other customers, and they’ve even provided me examples of how other customers are using the sprockets, which can be very different from the way I’m using them.

    Sometimes I change my procedures to work with the new sprockets, and sometimes I have to find ways to work around the changes. Either way I try to keep in mind that I’m not the only person using the sprockets.

  2. Such an excellent point, Christopher! And actually, my vinegar-bearer had a GREAT suggestion, and I made the change within the hour. I just wish he could’ve been kind about it since there was no need for snarkiness, ya know?

    Thanks so much for your comment! Have a great day!

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