unable to fulfil our commitment

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A couple of months ago I booked a one night stay in a farmhouse. We were travelling to Norfolk and needed to stay over. We booked via an online website. A broker. A middle man.

A few weeks before we were due to travel, an email arrived, from the broker.

“Unfortunately, the owner has informed us they are unable to fulfil the booking.”

My first reaction was, ‘damn, that’s a shame’ – it looked nice and I was looking forward to staying there. Quickly that evaporated into a sense of betrayal and deceit. Why had the owner let me down, and worse, why wouldn’t they just say why? I wanted truth.

Unable to get more information, I was ready to move on with my life and put it behind me. The broker had other ideas though. Daily for two weeks I got emails asking me to book an alternative. A venue they could recommend. It was twenty miles away from where I wanted to be. So, I ignored the emails. They served only to remind me that I had been let down. To continue to feed my disappointment. To turn it into a grumble, a bitterness.

Eventually the broker emailed a confirmed cancellation.

Then, two weeks before I had been due to travel, they emailed me, inviting me to have a lovely stay at the very place that had been unable to fulfil my booking. Now they were annoying me.

Then today, three days before my aborted stay, I received a new email. It says, “It’s time to put the finishing touches on your trip. Whether you’re travelling halfway around the world or just down the road, you deserve a great stay. So we’ve put together tips on how to make the most of your time and money.”

When we get it wrong, we simply get it wrong. When we get it wrong and then keep reminding everyone we got it wrong, we really, really get it wrong.

How often do we as human beings, interacting with others around us, effectively ‘send an email’ through not noticing our mistake. Through blindly repeating it? Through inadvertently drawing attention again to the error? Through not seeing another human being with their rights and needs?

It’s not about always being right. Nor is it about never making a mistake. It’s about noticing when we get it wrong. About truth, about honesty. But more, it’s about respect. It’s about noticing an individual. Seeing a human being. Honouring another person and their feelings. Their clever marketing, their smart systems, their ‘customer service’ failed to see me. A commitment to see the person. That’s the commitment they were unable to fulfil.

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are they? really?

I received an email yesterday.

Not in itself newsworthy I grant you.  I had a few.  Too many in fact.

This one though stood out.

After the brief message it ended…
KR
Name

I had to read it several times. The KR puzzled me. Was it a mistake? An inadvertent lean on the keyboard? Some coded message perhaps? Or maybe the first two initials of the writer, with an unplanned carriage return before the rest of the name?

Then it dawned on me… kind regards.

But are they?

If I cannot be bothered to type the words, are they really kind regards? I certainly didn’t receive it that way. In fact I felt this person showed little regard for me at all with this shorthand, can’t be bothered, nod to politeness.

Even when technology is used, we surely need to pay attention to the relationship, the messages we unconsciously send, the rapport we create or don’t. Text based exchanges already lose out on conveying tone of voice, facial expression, mood, a smile. If we resort to abbreviated proxies for any attempted human connection, all is lost.

 

tracks of plenty

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I travelled into London this morning by train. I arrive at Paddington, a busy station in the rush hour.

Leaving the train I noticed something I have experience before, but usually I am irritated by it, whereas this time I was curious.

As I stepped from the train, I found myself bumping into fellow travellers. Passengers who had exited the train from an adjacent door or another carriage further down the train; these people were passing along the platform ‘hugging the train’, rather than choosing to move to the centre of a wide concourse, away from disembarking passengers.

I was struck by this behaviour and the potential metaphors for human existence and interaction…

Staying close to where we’ve come from, our roots.
Not exposing ourselves in the throng of humanity and diversity.
Taking the shortest route in life.
Focusing on self and not noticing others.
Being in our own head and not present in the moment.
Staying protected and safe: using a train as a barrier.
Travelling tried and tested paths; the route the train took.
Seeking the beginning or end of our journey.

They seemed plentiful.  I may stay curious.

bubbly evolution?

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There’s a new phenomenon in our world.

The smartphone bubble. It’s a personal space where we get lost. Lost in our own system of connection.

Walking along the streets you can see these people lost in their private bubble.

There are several subtly different forms. The ‘blind communicator’. Here the smartphone ‘bubblist’ meanders in their texting posture, head bent, eyes down, thumbs dancing over the screen. They are oblivious to anyone around them. To the human being walkers dodging them on the pavement, the human being drivers avoiding them as they step into the road in their zombie like torpor – they are communicating through text, and the person 200 miles away matters more than you, stepping aside for their benefit right here, right now.

Then there is the ‘desperate not to miss outer’. These individuals are addicted to their social media stream of ‘news’. These are often one handed bubblists. They use their dominant thumb in an upward or downward stroking motion, browsing their newsfeed; a constantly rolling list of images, messages, videos and news items that, until that moment, they were completely unaware of. But now, this stream of news prevents them from glancing upwards at the real human beings dodging these ‘mustn’t miss out bubblists’ meandering along the streets, through the shops and bumping and bouncing their way through busy thoroughfares.

Then there is the ‘you all need to knowster’. This form of bubblist often has their eyes open and can see the human beings coming. However they insist on sharing their telephone conversation with everyone on the bus, the train, in the restaurant or simply passing in the street. They are hands free. Their conversation deserves to be shared with us all. That’s how important they are. How ‘need to know’the topic is. Meanwhile non-bubblist human beings have to accept that their thinking, reading, private moments are to be disturbed by the ‘need to knowster’s need to share.

Whatever happened to simple respect for another human being?

Come on bubblists, look up, smile, speak, step aside. Open a door for, say hello to… a fellow human being. You once were one.

 

what is your psychological contract of self?

psychological_contract self
Psychological contracts are often referred to in the context of the employer and the employee – what is the expectation, commitment of both?

It sometimes explores qualities of trust, honesty, respect, fairness, compassion. It will often cover the visible expectations and agreements, such as pay, hours, work, training, but more usefully might look under the waterline, beneath the visible iceberg, so to speak. Here might be give and take, inputs and outputs, responsibilities and rewards which are less clearly in play. Concepts such as control, power, innovation, recognition, commitment, respect, loyalty, tolerance and much much more.

At a meeting the other day we were discussing psychological contracts. We were to be a team, so the question posed was, ‘How did we want to be with each other?’

We were to discuss what we were looking for from other members of the team, what we were seeking from the team leader and what we would bring to the team. What our commitments would be in terms of contribution and what we were seeking in return.

As I reflected, I wondered how I could even begin to answer this, as my thoughts and feelings were initially directed inwards, at me. I wondered what my psychological contract with myself was?

Did I respect myself? Did I have compassion for myself? Did I have faith in myself? Was I in control of myself? Did I fully trust myself? Did I appreciate my own being? Did I own my own power?

What are my perceptions of myself, what do I believe about myself?

How am I getting in my own way, either unaware of, or maybe breaking, my own psychological contract even before I entered the room. Surely this is where I should start before considering any team working agreements?

What is my psychological contract of self?