Jenny, please accept my sincere apology for my rude response to your call.
A few weeks ago I received a cold call. The woman on the other end of the line was looking to consult with me about a software solution.
My response was terse. OK, it was downright rude. There was no excuse for my behavior.
Somehow I ended up on a senior IT executive “marketing list”. Maybe that is how she found me. . . I am inundated with solicitations for IT/IS services and solutions on a daily basis. For the record, I know just enough about IT to be dangerous. I’m an operations guy. . .
At the point this call came in, I had fielded over 20 cold calls that week for such services. I had received five times that many emails offering some solution or other. I was also dealing with the shock of another member of the family being diagnosed with stage four cancer (I hate effing cancer). I was tired, emotional, and really did not want to spend time on another cold call.
So I had an excuse, right? No, I didn’t
The woman on the other end of the fiber was Jenny. Despite my rude and terse behavior, she remained professional until I nearly hung-up on her.
I’ve written a few posts about kindness in the last few months. I work hard to always remain kind. Yet in this case, I threw kindness out the window. I was rude.
Immediately after the call, I felt horrible. I shocked myself at my own ability to be terse and unkind. I stewed. The call put me in a terrible mood. Rather, I put myself in a terrible mood.
I tried to justify my behavior by telling myself it was OK. It was OK because of the damn IT marketing list, the phone calls and emails unrelated to my work. It was OK because of the other “stuff” occurring in my personal life.
It wasn’t OK.
Later that day, I spoke to a friend of mine and told her how terrible I felt. I said, “that’s not me, and I don’t want to leave someone thinking I am a total a-hole”. I told her I was thinking I would call Jenny back in the morning to apologize. She, simply said, “Aaron, you know what’s right”. I did.
The next morning I called Jenny back. I started the call by saying “Jenny, I’m sorry. . .”. I half expected her to hang up and I wouldn’t have blamed her. She didn’t. Instead, Jenny said, “Thank you Aaron, I appreciate you calling back to say that”. We went on to have a cordial conversation. From the first call to the last, Jenny behaved like the consummate professional she is.
I don’t like cold calls. I’d be lying if I said I did, yet this incident also demanded I reflect on how I treat others. As I drafted this post I reached out to Jenny to make sure she was comfortable with me using her name. In her note back to me she wrote:
“I really appreciate you giving me a call back to apologize as well. I do have to say, that was a first for me. I’ve been in sales since 2013… Not too long, but long enough to know that what you did is a rarity. Thank you!”
Jenny calls it a rarity. That is unfortunate.
So this, my open apology to Jenny, is a reminder to you. Despite the circumstances, please be kind. You never really know what is happening on the other end of that fiber.
I am a senior operations professional employed by The Toro Company. The comments, opinions and views expressed herein are mine and do not represent those of my employer.
I write to share ideas and generate a conversation. Most often you will find me writing personal stories exploring the correlation between our personal and professional lives.
© 2016 Aaron Skogen
Originally published on LinkedIn
Photo: Getty Images