I am wary of being the kind of person who writes about her daily experience on the train but I promise you I have a good story to tell this time.
On my way home from work yesterday, I was in the ‘Quiet Zone’ of the train simply because it is helpful to read where there are no noisy teenagers or lovers cooing on the phone. Also, the quiet zone is the only car on the train where you can fall asleep and everyone else would think you are having an intellectual moment – provided that you don’t drool.
About ten minutes into the journey, a gentleman broke the quiet zone rule and began chatting on the phone to his colleague about the meeting agenda for the next day (I know this because it was a rather loud conversation).
He was in the middle of his deep and engaging conversation with his colleague when a lady seated on my left snapped at him.
She told him off for speaking on his phone when there are signs all around stating that it was a taboo to have phone conversations or listen to loud music. He simply ignored her and kept on chatting as if she didn’t say a word. She then proceeded to yank the phone from him. A clear example of how two wrongs don’t make a right.
She was right to caution him about flouting the rules but the manner with which she did was so appalling that other passengers told her in unequivocal terms to shut up and stop being rude.
I have not had such entertainment on a train in while. Maybe they were all cranky from a long day at work but it was clear that the lady’s rudeness was more abhorrent than the gentleman’s lack of courtesy and pure disregard for the social norms of our ‘Quiet Zone’ car.
I am not just telling a story, I really do have a point and it is this: sometimes it does not matter if we are right and the other person is clearly wrong. What matters is how we communicate the fact to the other person.
It is necessary to infuse empathy daily in our lives as leaders. It reflects badly on us when we stand on a pedestal of righteousness to point out to ‘mere mortals’ that their actions are repugnant. Nobody likes to be told that they are wrong.
So what do you do when someone on your team is doing something clearly wrong? Take them aside and explain to them that you are sure they were not aware that talking on the train in the quiet zone is wrong but you just thought to point it out to them so they don’t make the same mistake.
Correcting people publicly is embarrassing both to the person being corrected and the people listening to such correction. What would it profit you to embarrass the whole train and lose your dignity?
In other news, I don’t think London has got the memo that it is Spring time. Yes, the sun is out but why on earth is it still so cold? Brrr.
Have a lovely day people.