I sat, nibbling on my left thumbnail, arms crossed, staring at the unsent email response, which was in its third or fourth iteration. I was responding to a question from my boss, asking if a particular task had been completed within a project. It had not. Since I had taken great care to ensure I had the multiple elements of this project on point, my initial reaction was that he never asked me to do it. But after searching my emails, I learned that indeed he had -- the week before in a flurry of other project-related messages.
Apparently I missed it. Well, not necessarily. I had read the email. In fact I had printed it out and pinned it to my bulletin board. But the way the task was outlined, there's a whole line of rationale that had me thinking he was talking about something else. Classic misunderstanding. Go figure.
And there I was, typing and retyping, trying to figure out how to apologize and admit to my boss that I was unclear on the instructions and therefore the task was not done.
Fortunately, I caught myself.
Since it actually wasn't too late to complete the task, I erased the entire email, said I would get the information I needed, and would complete the task that day. And what could've escalated into a lengthy unnecessary dialogue about who, what, when, and why disappeared in the breeze.
There's a time and a place to throw yourself on the sword. Part of maturing -- personally and professionally -- is knowing when those times are.
I'm quick to apologize. "My bad," is definitely a staple in the vocabulary. After all, there are few things sadder than a person being in the wrong and grasping at straws trying to prove they're not wrong. But sometimes you gotta, well, be a politician. You know, reframe the story for a more positive outlook. Glass half-full type stuff.
Giving my boss the whole spiel about why something didn't happen would have led us down a side road that had nothing to do with the matter at hand -- stuff ain't done. I had to step back from my emotions and the need to defend myself to see the real objective. Why not just get it done and keep it movin'?
Similarly, in relationships, everything doesn't need a back story. I'm not advocating dishonesty. I'm just saying every detail doesn't help. If a man is caught cheating, apologies -- and more -- are in order. However, a woman can do without knowing that the side chick is a contortionist and that's why he kept going back.
I remember one time as a teenager, my mother was talking about how one of her friends had told her jealous husband about being hit on at the store. "You don't have to tell a man everything," Ma said. Perhaps we've all had those moments where we've volunteered way too much information (sometimes aided by libations), spilling so many beans you could put out your own Confessions album.
Yes, the truth will set you free, but as Proverbs notes, a fool speaks his whole mind. I have to constantly check myself about this. Not sure if it's a writer thing or a woman thing or a combination of both, but I'm always wanting to explain. I can't just admit, I want to divulge why...which is a slippery, slippery slope into unhelpful territory.
As far as my boss' response to the "No worries, I'll take care of it now" version of my email, it couldn't have gone smoother. He simply replied, "Okay, thanks." I can only imagine the back and forth that would've ensued had I sent the "OMG, so sorry, totally didn't understand that you wanted me to do that especially based on the way it was worded in your second email yada yada yada..." version.
As with many situations in life, sometimes less is more.