Networking Reflections

Lessons Learned from a Recent Screw-up

xkcd: Frame
Credit: xkcd

I offended someone recently. I really would never have meant to do that… but unfortunately I did.

Does spending some much time with people who are “on the spectrum” make you less attuned to people’s feelings yourself? I wonder. Anyway, I guess to summarize I thought I was suggesting something that would be easier for her and fit in well. But  I was wrong. Worse, this means that I’m not sure I can suggest the better solution that has since occurred to me. And, obviously I need to sort this out. Urgh.

It’s really important to learn from this kind of experience, here’s what I have so far.

Work on the ask. Needs to be general enough to encourage people to approach you, but not so general that you’re compelled to accept everyone who does.

Don’t say yes, follow up. There will be a bunch of details that you neglect to mention. Later you may realize you didn’t clarify something you “always do” and they are expecting something different than what you’re offering.

Don’t say no, follow up. I’m pretty poor at saying no, especially in person. It’s easy to override me. This turns it into a yes – if I’ve followed up by email, I can think about it for longer and decide whether or not the objection is valid.

Even if you are the sole decision maker, behave like you’re not. Gives you more leeway.

Look for other options. Maybe you can’t give the person what they want, but know people who can. Allow yourself time to reflect on other connections that you can create, and the value that might come from them.

Just because someone offers, you don’t have to say yes. I messed up in this case, but more than offending someone I screwed up because I agreed to something that I’m not sure is in line with what I want to do. There are so many better options now I’m not standing in front of someone having to come up with an instant response, but I may have put myself in a position where I can’t suggest them without offending this person further – not good.

So to summarize – don’t just agree to things, buy time to consider your options and talk with other people who may be involved and can give you better perspective.

And if you see me doing anything else, kick me (I’ll thank you for it later).