Note No. 43

January 9, 2010

Okay. Full disclosure: Even though I gave myself a high five for my last encounter with the electrician, I had an icky feeling afterward (and as long as we’re fully disclosing, he is not just an electrician but a plumber, too, and he also does odd handyman jobs, because that’s as good as I’ve found here).

Yes, I felt justified at the time, because I had spent more than two weeks trying to get him to do that job and every single time that he had said he was on his way over to do it, he had either come late and done anything BUT that one job, or he just hadn’t come at all.

But really, there is no denying that I railroaded him. (I thought if I whispered it, it wouldn’t sound so awful.) I completely went in there, eyes crazy, horns blowing, cowcatcher ready to take out some legs, and I railroaded him.

There. I said it. In normal font size.

And it does not matter so much that I neither yelled nor cursed, because I was aggressive, and I wanted to yell and curse.

Now surely Stephen R. Covey (I swear he is neither my boyfriend, nor am I being paid to keep saying his name) would not give me a round of applause for that. I know he wouldn’t because this morning at breakfast, he was talking about communication skills and he gave me an exam and I don’t think I did that well.

You decide:


Think of a recent phone conversation, e-mail, or face-to-face discussion where you stated your needs first.

Who was it with?

the electrician

When was it?

January 5, 2010 at 9:12 a.m.

What was the topic?

the unsealed manhole cover outside my gate

What happened?

I called the electrician to inform him that I was going to seal it myself and charge him 200 pesos, if he did not get over here to do it within the hour

How might the outcome have been different if you had first stated the needs of the other person first?

I guess I have to figure out first what his needs were…I think based on the behavior of the previous two weeks, his needs were to not seal the manhole cover, so for me to state his needs first would maybe encourage him to not come at all. Right? Oh, I don’t know. Does he have any needs here?

Did you communicate your ideas and logic clearly and specifically? If not, write them down below.

No, because he thought that I had already done the job when I told him that I was GOING to do the job myself and charge him, if he did not get there within the hour. (But I obviously got something across in that he came to do the job within an hour of me calling him.)

How might the outcome have been different had you clearly and specifically communicated your ideas?

I would not have felt icky afterwards (even though he DID come over straight away after I called him and he even seemed to respect me more than ever (We haven’t reached the bit in the workbook about making excuses for one’s bad behavior).).

But do you want to know what the really encouraging thing about all of that was? I read it AFTER I had the conversation that I am about to transcribe for you, because long before Mr. Covey told me I did it all wrong, I had realized that I did it all wrong. I just didn’t really realize why, other than the icky feeling I had.
Here was my encounter with the electrician, before I took my exam:

Time: 8:58am
Tone of voice: Two yoga instructors discussing the Lotus position

(Phone rings about three times.)
HIM: Hello?
ME: Good morning; it’s Margaret.
HIM: Good morning, Señorita Margarita. At your orders.
ME: Why didn’t you come yesterday?
HIM: Margarita, I have a little problem. I have this client … (drone) … bathrooms … (drone) … family coming from all over, Valladolid, all over … (drone) … no water, nothing in this house, so I was working on that all day.
ME: Okay. Well, why didn’t you answer when I called, or call me back to tell me why you didn’t come?
HIM: I was really busy all day. I wasn’t focused on missed calls.
ME: Okay. Well, the water (pressure) is still really bad.
HIM: The water (pressure) is worse?
ME: Yes. I just took a shower and it took forever to get hot and then it was just a trickle when it came out. (Disclaimer: after interviewing some of the guests, it seems my room is the worst of the five.)
HIM: Do you have guests?
ME: Yes. The hotel is full.
HIM: Because we need to get up to the tenacos (water holding tanks on the roof) and check the connections there.
ME: But I thought we already did that. I thought the only remaining part to check was downstairs next to the bodega (storage closet).
HIM: We checked the roof pipes but to check the connectors involves turning off the water in the hotel and dismantling them.
ME: Well, can you come today? Because I think the most important thing is returning the water pressure to the guests, because we’re not going to be empty till April. I can tell them today that we will not have water from such time to such time. I just think we need to figure this out now.
HIM: Yes. I can leave my assistant with my client and come to yours at 12.
ME: Are you sure?
HIM: Yes.
ME: So I can tell my guests that we will not have water at 12 and you will be here?
HIM: Yes. You can tell your guests they will not have water at 12 and I will be there. At 12. Not any later.
ME: Okay. Thank you.
HIM: No, thank you for waiting on me.

And we hung up and I felt oh-so-adult. I had given him a chance to speak: it was all one big excuse. But I didn’t get hung up on that. I proceeded to now, and how we can correct things now. And I asked civil questions that were not loaded. I even rephrased what he said, so that he felt understood.

And I did not yell. And I did not curse. And I did not even feel like I wanted to yell or curse.

Now let’s just see if he comes at 12 o’ clock sharp, as he promised. If he doesn’t, I’m getting back on that phone and I am railroading him until he shows up.
Just kidding. I’m finding another electrician. Plumber. Whatever you want to call it.
(Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that, though, because I actually do not think that would be possible.)

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