Rote Replies + “Have a nice day” + No problem” = Teachable Moments To Help You Think Before You Speak!

One of my Yellow Brain mother’s favorite expressions, which I also apply to my life, is: “(Wo)man proposes and God disposes”.

This quote was proven to be true a few weeks ago. I intended to attend an purposely unnamed Illinois state agency focused in the early care and education for child development, Pre-K education, and other family and community entities.

I have enjoyed working with and teaching programs for this agency and its community partners for many years. As of this spring, the agency requires trainers  to attend an orientation meeting and complete online courses and training documentation. My Responsible  Yellow Brain had written the date on my calendar, looked the location up on Google Maps, and told my husband I would not be home that evening.

However, our beloved cousin, the honorable Richard J. Elrod, the former Sheriff of Cook County Illinois and distinguished Circuit Court Judge, passed away. The burial, memorial service, and Shiva were on the same Tuesday as the trainers orientation.

I called the agency office and spoke to a young woman whose name was listed on the email I received about the meeting.

I explained my situation and asked the young woman if I could attend another trainer. She explained that this was the only meeting in my area. I told her I was not sure if I could at the meeting exactly at 7:0opm and asked what was the latest time I could arrive. She replied, “No later that 7:15.”

I thanked her for the information and she replied, “No problem.”

I replied, “Yes, I do have a problem! I have to leave my family Shiva (gathering of mourners) and attend your training on time.

Then she offered her rote reply, “OK. Have  a nice day.”

My good-bye got stuck in my mouth like cotton candy. I sat as my desk staring into the telephone. I was dumbfounded and flabbergasted!

A few minutes later, my Proper Yellow Brain called back  to tell the young woman:
1. I did not hang up on her.
2. I  also needed to know who was facilitating the meeting.
3. My Blue Brain Educator Brain saw this experience as a “Teachable Moment”.
4. I wanted the young woman to understand that when she said, “Have a nice day” without thinking, I found her rote response disturbing because she did not think about what she was saying and to whom was saying it to.
5. I told her, “I am not having an nice day. I just told you I am going to a funeral for my beloved cousin!”

Then the young woman said, “No one has ever said that to me before. I think you are mad at me.” Then she began to cry.

Again, my Green Brain Calmly explained that I was offering her was a “Teachable Moment” and that her organization is all about teaching/training/taking care of children and families. People have to be taught how to speak to one another. That is why your organization offers my What Color Is Your Brain? Program to help people learn how to communicate and build rapport with other people! I trust you have learned a valuable lesson from this conversation.”

The young woman replied, “I guess so.”

And my Yellow Brain Politely said, “Good-bye”.

After that phone call, I had to cancel another appointment. When the receptionist asked why I was cancelling, I explained the circumstances to her. The receptionist’s response was lovely. She said, “Let me know when you want to reschedule. I am sorry for your loss and I will keep you and your family in my prayers.” I thanked her and said how grateful I was for her understanding and thoughtfulness.

This post might seem like a persnickety person from the “Silent Generation” breaking her silence. However, it is words of caution and consideration. Next time you think about offering a rote reply, stop and think about what you are saying and to whom you are speaking!

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  1. Laurie Buchanan on May 13, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    …”stop and think about WHAT you are saying and to WHOM you are speaking.”

    Sheila, your observation and statement is tremendously valuable and I’m so glad that you shared it here. Thank you.

    • sheila on May 14, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      Laurie, so good to hear from you. Please forgive me, I have not been as attentive your posts lately. I have been absorbed in my manuscript deadlines for the publisher. I trust you and Len are enjoying your new home!! Your pictures on FB have been a lovely travel log. I hope you saw my recent post about my friend Lily and her literary agency. I didn’t know what was happening with your manuscript that I enjoyed reading. Maybe she can be of help to you. Sending your my warmest regards and hugs. Sheila

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