What a Difference a Day Makes
Do you give yourself enough time to make decisions? To respond as your best self all the time?
Sometimes all it takes is a day or two and a bit of self-awareness to make a huge difference in how we handle all the things life throws at us. Often when we’re feeling emotional, we react too soon and end up feeling dis-empowered by our own actions. But when we honor and respect our feelings and thoughts with time and patience, we’re better able to use them to our advantage.
We all experience intense emotions sometimes. Things like anger, frustration and irritation can build over time until we’re standing there like a ticking time bomb, ready to blow! And in the moment, the thing we want most is relief from the gathering forces of our feelings. But unfortunately, unleashing all of this emotional energy into the world can sometimes result in saying or doing things we later regret. No one likes the feeling of having lost IT.
Self-awareness leads to empowering interactions with others, but it also takes time, something a lot of us don’t use often enough. I recently had an opportunity to practice and thought it would be a good example to share with you.
It was an incident with the publisher of my book. It was a BIG DEAL. All of the elements were in place, the inner body and layout of the book had been completed and approved in August. We were slated to host a release party October 1st.
But to this date, there is no book!
So what are we waiting on??
Believe it or not, the image, font and colors were decided on months prior (in June)! But no one was working on it!
So, I’m dealing with a small publishing company in a nearby city. Retired book agent, he publishes only 4-5 books each year and his wife helps him with the graphic design work. Week after week they promise that the work on the cover will be completed. Finally, I’m sent a draft – not at all what we’d discussed originally. I’m told… I will like it when I see it in print.
No. I don’t like it.
I push to have the cover design we agreed upon. And I go back to waiting…three more weeks and I receive a cover that overall looks like what I expected, but there’s an issue: the title of the book on the spine is too thin and barely shows up next to my name. So I send an email requesting this small change.
Yay! We’re getting so close!
In response….After a lengthy attempt to get me to buy into not changing it (some rigmarole about the author’s name being prominent among the famous), I’m told the whole cover will need to be redesigned and it will probably be another few weeks.
Really? Just to make bold the title font on the spine?
I’m really bummed. I’ve already missed the window for a late summer release of the book and multiple marketing opportunities. I’d love to get it out the first week of November, before the holidays. So I explain all of this in another email. I offer to do the work myself. I know how.
I’m trying to imagine he’s just busy, or hasn’t seen the message. So I call on the phone, to ask him to secure a solid date. After I explain my marketing needs to the publisher, he says, “It will have to wait until my wife has time. She’s really busy now with other stuff. Every time I ask her to work on it, she gets upset with me. We have to live together: I don’t want to make her mad.”
I just don’t even know what to say to that!
I hang up the phone feeling awful. The level of professionalism has plummeted. I’m sorely disappointed. I can’t imagine spending the next five years (contractual terms) struggling to have my needs met in regards to my book deal. I’ve already faced way too many broken promises. The relationship feels dishonest and uncaring. The publisher is not encouraging, nor advocating for my success in any way. He has a lot of excuses to offer, but little else. It isn’t how I’d imagined it would be.
I finally get it! We’re not on the same team!
Once I realize the reality of the situation, it doesn’t take long for me to decide what I need to do. I pull out our contract, look over the section outlining termination, and make up my mind to pay the $200 fee for cancelling after layout. I’m not angry or frustrated anymore because I’m taking back control of the work. I actually feel relieved.
For me, the publishing experience is as important as the date of release.
So Friday, on my way to work, I dial his number. After a few rings, his voicemail picks up. Although I had really wanted to speak in person, I don’t want to wait. I leave a message explaining that our working relationship has become unacceptable to me. Considering the long-term future of my book, I can’t continue working with he and his wife. I keep it simple, succinct. I promise to send an official letter outlining my request to terminate the contract. I encourage him to call me if he has any questions.
For two days, I hear nothing.
On Monday, I open my email and there is a response in which he expresses his disbelief in my decision. “Over the font on the spine…”
From that point on, a good part of his email is an attempt to shame me, or punish me for my decision. In the end, he asks for the $200 for the layout (which I can’t use) PLUS $200 for the graphic design of the cover. Now this part is what really escalates my anger. What nerve! After I literally procured the image, designed the look and layout of the cover, sent it all to her and all she had to do was arrange it in the cover template. She had all that for more than six months, and still couldn’t make it happen, so I don’t want to give her one dime!!
Knowing how intense my feelings are, I make a pact with myself to wait until Thursday to respond or write the letter. At first, I have a lot of thoughts about all the mean things I can say. I can get a lawyer to write it up on official letterhead. I can fight. I know I’m right! I shouldn’t have to pay for what she didn’t do….I’m sure you can imagine.
But, oh, what a difference a day makes…or two or three.
When we jump into a confrontation with our emotions leading, we’re reacting in a defensive fashion. We’re usually just trying to protect our ego and image. We strike out. We say and do things that don’t always serve our end goals. Sometimes we act in ways that we later despise.
Don’t get me wrong: our emotions are great. They indicate when our boundaries have been crossed or compromised. They indicate when someone isn’t treating us well. They tell us when and where we need to draw the line, but they’re not very good at drawing those lines. When we’re faced with this kind of situation, we need to use self-awareness to harness our emotions to our favor. Then we need to make a clear promise to our self to honor those boundaries. This act alone will bring a lot of relief.
Check out this Empowerment Contract to learn how to keep promises to yourself!!
Then we can set a time in the future to handle the situation. Allow the emotions to calm down. I promise they will once you are taking the steps to repair what’s been damaged. We get to use the time for contemplation and deciding what our greatest needs are. We get in touch with our priorities and what matters most. We embrace our best-case scenario.
And then put the issue on the back burner for the allotted time. For me it’s usually 2-3 days, but sometimes, like in this case I give myself a week to respond. Because initially I am really pissed at their request. I feel like I’ve been wronged and disrespected. I need time to cool off.
Over the course of that week, as the anger fades, I realize that fighting them over $200 isn’t going to give me what I want most, the opportunity to move forward with my book (my way) as soon as possible. I also want a quick and complete severance from the situation that has caused me so much angst over the last few months.
Suddenly, expressing my anger doesn’t seem necessary anymore. I’d already said all I needed to with my brief statement over the phone. In reality, people know what they’ve done (or not.) They don’t need to be told. Think about it…I always know when I’ve treated people badly. Even if I don’t want to admit it, I know. Don’t you? Sometimes the less we say, the better. Then the other person is forced to face their own stuff, on their own.
It seems like the best thing I can do is walk away with my energy intact. So on Thursday morning, I write out a very short letter indicating my desire to end the contract, enclose a check for $400.00 and put it in the mail. And when it is out of my hands, I know I got everything I really wanted. Control of my project, the publishing experience, and peace of mind.
The rest I’ll have to figure out on my own. Something inside ensures me I will.
PS. Have you ever had an experience like this where waiting made you take a different and surprising approach to solving an issue? Tell us about it in the comments below.