Years ago I used to work with this client, aliased Jack, who would continually get on my nerves. He wasn’t a bad guy but every now and then he would email me a question, looking for an answer to something we’d been over and over again.
I would read his email and think, “Why the fuck are you asking me this? We’ve already talked about it. More than once. I got better shit to do than repeat myself. For the third time.”
I saw the email conversations as nothing but ridiculous.
No, the world’s not gonna blow up if you click that button. If it could blow up, my annoying little friend, you wouldn’t be able to see the button, let alone click the fucking button.
Obviously customer service doesn’t run in my blood. I like talking with my friends and family but I’m not a big fan of talking to people when I “have to.” By and large there’s little interest in me to hand out warm fuzzies to the clients. I like to write code at work, not give hugs.
So back to Jack.
I was thinking about him this morning because thoughts come and go, as they do. He was a nervous, jittery guy. Anxious pretty much every time I spoke with him. He would often get five steps ahead of me when we were reviewing his projects and I’d be like, “dude, slow down.” I would actually call him “dude” which is my polite way of saying “you moron.”
But time equals clarity and so I tend to think with those calls and emails what he was after was reassurance. He was looking to be comforted in someway if you will. Don’t make that weird because it’s not. But maybe he was homosexual, I don’t know.
I doubt if him wanting a professional “hug” was a front-burner thought. It’s not unusual for people to create little messes in their mind, get themselves all worked up and bent out of shape, and then lean on somebody they trust. Someone who’ll tell them it’s okay, that everything’s fine. Someone who’ll offer solutions to their problems.
And then life can be right for a moment.
I don’t know for sure that’s what was up with Jack but it’s what I’m inclined to think.
Being in touch with what other people are feeling or needing is not something that comes naturally to me. I’m a man, not an empath. I have to consciously pay attention to those around me or else I’ll be content in my own imaginary land of Hobbitses and/or Synthetics.
That will sometimes get me in trouble, too.
Here’s a quote by David F. Swink:
Having poor empathy skills can lead to serious consequences. It can lead to conflict born of misunderstanding. Without it we can feel lonely within a relationship. Lack of empathy can cause companies to make catastrophic blunders that alienate their customers or employees and it can even incite violence.
Hopefully I’ve never incited violence. I do have the occasion thought of hitting someone on the head with a hammer though.
Thinking about Jack in the here and now it’s easier to see where his antics were coming from, hindsight being 20/20 and all that. There’s nothing I can do about that relationship now but I can maybe carry a little extra empathy into my present day interactions with Jill, aliased of course.
Last paragraph: sometimes we make amends to someone by being a little bit nicer to the next guy.
He stopped calling me once he figured out I always sent him to voicemail. ↑
I was being silly just then. ↑
Again, I was being silly. ↑