January 24, 2016

Nathan Smeal

I Should Have Been Canned For This, But Learned A Hard Lesson Instead

cannedThere are many ‘oopsies’ that can happen in business - double booking appointments, forgetting about a meeting, putting an extra ‘0’ on the end of a client’s invoice – to name a few. These are all honest mistakes and I’m sure they happen more often than I’d like to believe.

Then, there’s just plain stupidity. That’s where I come in and I’m willing to take the fall on this one.

Allow me to put the situation in context before I actually tell you what I did that was so remarkably dumb. I had just put in a full day of creating and proofreading content, answering emails, following up with clients and leads, and responding to a myriad of Facebook requests on behalf of our clients. I was going a thousand miles per hour, then before I knew it, it was 4:30 PM and was nowhere near done with what I had wanted to accomplish for the day. I wanted to finish work, so I could spend time with my wife and relax. Don’t we all?

As I think I’m finally nearly done with my day, I get one of those emails that just create genuine frustration.  A client did not like the picture I selected to accompany their blog post and wanted to go back to the drawing board. Normally, this would not have been an issue. Except, this was the sixth or seventh email with this client on the subject that day, alone.

So, I forwarded the email to the ‘boss,’ who happens to be my wife, expressing my frustration. Even though she was sitting less than one foot away, I didn’t want to bother her and I just needed to vent. It wasn’t too bad, on the surface. But, I definitely made it clear that I didn’t know what the client wanted (and highlighted that with things like, ‘IDK’ and ‘WTF’).

Then, I hit send.

Now picture a slow motion scream scene of ‘noooo’ from a movie. That’s what I did, because I realized I sent the email back to the client!

I freaked out.  I replied again right away, apologizing, and I felt terrible the whole evening. I prepared to get canned the next day and I waited patiently for the call.

And the client was sure to drag it out… I heard crickets for 20 hours.

Then, I got the email, “Can you call me when you get a second, please?” My heart sank. Gulp!

I called – and I was still terrified as the phone rang. My primary contact at the business picked up and said upon answering, “Wow, I’m surprised you haven’t been canned yet!”

Then he laughed saying that he had wanted to call earlier, but that the boss man wanted to wait a few more hours because I ‘shouldn’t get off that easy.’

What a relief! I was very lucky, because this client had a sense of humor, and they admitted that they had done the same thing within their own company at times. They understood my frustration, and told me that messing up had actually secured our business with them even more because it showed that I was ‘not a robot.’

There are quite a few lessons you can pull from this, but without a doubt, the biggest lesson I learned is: Don’t put anything in electronic form that could get you fired!

And, this is especially true for the small business owner: remember to take breaks! I am certain I would not have done what I did if I had stopped to breathe a few times throughout the day.

 Don’t leave me hanging! Share your biggest ‘oopsie!’

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