One time, in band camp, I hung up on a client.
Wait… no… I’m mixing things up. I did play the flute and I did go to band camp but I didn’t hang up on a client. I hung up on a colleague. Here’s the story.
This colleague, whom I’ll call George, had a reputation. As lovely and pleasant as he was to his customers, he wasn’t so nice to his colleagues. He was rude, loud, aggressive, badgering, and regularly bordered on abusive. No one in my department wanted to work with him and we avoided him whenever possible. On one particular day, however, I was awarded the pleasure of talking to this gentleman on the telephone. After holding the phone inches away from my ear, for I was about to go deaf AND blind from the tirade, I insisted that he stop talking and listen for 20 seconds. I told him this:
“I am going to hang up you now. When you have calmed down and can speak in a regular voice, you may call me back, or come over and talk to me in person.”
And I hung up.
So what happened? He called me back in about half an hour. His voice was calm and apologetic. We talked for a bit and he told he was shocked at what I did. In fact, he did not realize that his behaviour wasn’t pleasant, and no one had ever said anything to him. And from that day forward, honest to goodness, he was the most pleasant person to work with. I no longer minded if he called me. I no longer minded when he wanted to brainstorm with me. I even dropped by his office on occasion just to chat and see how he was doing. Turns out, he just needed someone to turn on the light switch for him.
So I ask you. Can YOU help a colleague turn on their light switch?