I woke up on a Sunday morning recently to a strange text message, written at 12:14 a.m. It was from a former customer of mine.
The person wrote that they were going through their contact list and thinning out/deleting old names. When s/he came across mine, strong feelings arose and the result was this text:
“Many years ago I called you to ask for help. In a nutshell, you made me feel insignificant. It was disgusting. I wanted you to know.”
I reread the message several times, found my glasses and a cup of coffee, and responded,
“I apologize. I don’t remember the incident but that doesn’t matter. That’s a terrible memory to have and I regret making you feel anything less than important. I will work hard to make certain this doesn’t happen again.”
I don’t have a particularly thick skin for criticism. What I do have is gratitude.
These are the life lessons that make the biggest impact on me. Sure, I love hearing from people who tell me the positive, those who I have trained who are now wildly successful and they reach out to say thank you.
While those messages encourage me, I don’t learn as much as I do when someone tells me what a jerk I was and why. Those are the ones that remind me that I am not all that and a bag of chips, that I occasionally come across as uninterested, and that while it is a rare event, sometimes I even offend.
Since that text message came in, I have done as I promised I would do. I have tried to be more attentive and present. I have tried to deliver a message: You are important to me. Interestingly, people have commented and I have that negative lesson to thank.
You told me I was a jerk, and for that, I am grateful.