Monday, October 13, 2008

Dear Santa, I Thought You Could Read My Mind...

How many times in our lives do we receive gifts we don’t really need or want, and seethe internally because the other person was not sensible enough to anticipate our true wishes?
We may come up on a birthday, or other Holiday, and, once asked what we would like, our answer simply is: “Oh, you don’t have to worry about a gift. I really can’t think of a thing.” Deep down, we expect to be showered with lavish gifts and attention because the other person SHOULD want to make us happy, but our pride stops us from expressing what we really want. We expect people to read minds, and are disappointed if the other party’s “psychic” qualities are not as sharp as we thought.
Many years ago, I used to work at a downtown hotel as front desk supervisor. The reservation manager surprised us one morning by telling us that she would be leaving.
My heart leapt at the opportunity; I really wanted that job. I immediately went to the front office manager and volunteered to keep up with the reservation work after my colleague left. The two weeks passed by. I arranged my schedule so I could be in the reservation office during the day, and still be able to oversee front desk operations. By now, I thought, the job was certainly mine. I had learned anything there was to learn about reservations, and could envision the front office manager coming up to me and beg me to take the position.
About a week after that, bright and early one morning, a young girl showed up at the front desk and asked for me. She told me her name and said that she had been hired for the reservation manager position; furthermore, the front office manager told her that I would be training her, and how excited I would probably be to resume my regular job.
I was floored. All I had hoped for, and worked so hard to achieve, was crumbling in front of me like a house of cards. Maybe there was a mistake, I thought.
But it was no mistake. Jane took over the reservation office, and I went back to my old job. What went wrong? Why didn’t I get the position?
I realized then that I had never asked for the job after all. I volunteered to help, yes, but never formally said anything about wanting the position. In fact, every chance I had, I always reminded the front office manager how much I loved my regular job and my customers! I had dug my own career’s grave by not stating clearly what I really wanted, assuming that he could read my mind.
Most of us readily expect others to KNOW what we wish, but we are the only ones who know what’s important to us.
That situation taught me to be more direct and make sure that people know exactly what I expect. Whether they will comply or not is a different thing, but at least I will never have to beat myself up for losing an opportunity to the demon of improper communication.

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