Your behaviour tends to define you
I had to put together a business programme for a foreign business school from Europe. They had asked me to arrange a visit to a specific company and suggested one of their alumni (let’s call her Elen) help me as she had a direct contact with a senior manager at this entity. I was all for it.
This senior manager is a well known sports personality in SA and I sent him an email to thank him for his willingness to receive this group on behalf of my business school and to tie up the arrangements. To my utter astonishment and shock, I received an email from the alumnus of the European business school, stressing that I had to cut my emails to this person as it was unprofessional and that he had to concentrate on very important events.
My first response was to tell her to enjoy the journey to hell, as I was doing my job and demonstrating good manners, as all South Africans would! I also withdrew from any further planning for the course.
The staff at the European business school were dismayed at my withdrawal. I realised I had allowed my insecurities(?) to influence my behaviour. I had allowed myself to demonstrate a classic knee-jerk reaction, and in the process placed my client under pressure, which is unforgivable.
I immediately rectified the situation and went ahead with all the arrangements to facilitate the visit. The visit itself was a roaring success and the celebrity probably did not even know about the fracas.
Lesson for myself: there are too many Elen’s in the world to allow them to influence your behaviour. You cannot allow them to antagonise you to the point where you place your client under pressure. Be careful as to how you behave in times like these. It says more about you than about Elen – she was doing me a favour and had no obligations to anyone.