For someone who tends to be pretty quiet, I sure make a big deal about communication. Because it matters.
I’m going to focus on a theme I’ve experienced recently: the apparent lack of respect or awareness for the other party.
My first example is from my job (believe it or not). Lately my company has been looking to hire for new positions, and I’ve had the pleasure of being on the interview team. Before I get too far, I should say that I do actually enjoy the interviewing process–most of the time. I like discovering what people have to offer. But this particular example makes me have a much more profound respect for those that do HR work full-time. I don’t think I could handle it.
We started out with a phone interview. This guy was shockingly unprepared. “Can you remind me what position I’m applying for again?” he asked. Seriously. When is that appropriate to ask in an interview? I stared at the phone in shock while I heard my colleagues furiously typing away, taking notes of his obvious screw-up. If this were an in-person interview, I’m not sure I could have stifled my expression.
The interview as a whole was mediocre: he gave standard replies, and overall just seemed really unenthusiastic. In the end, while none of us were impressed, we thought that maybe we just caught him on a bad day. We decided to give him another chance with a second phone call.
As far as energy goes, the second call was much better. He actually sounded awake this time around. Things were looking up, comparatively. About halfway through our questions, though, the call dropped. Now if it were truly an accident, there was no one to blame, so I quickly reconnected and tried to get things going again. But he responds with, “Sorry about the call. I’m not sure what happened. I actually have to go in about 5 minutes. Can we wrap this up? Maybe arrange another time next week?”
So I ended up sending him our standard “thanks but no thanks” letter shortly afterward. I shouldn’t have expected a appreciative reply from this guy, but I was still shocked by his final response: “You’re company doesn’t seem like one I would want to work for.”
I feel really bad for whoever ends up hiring this guy. How does one expect to land a decent job with that sort of attitude? I mean, he’s on the phone with a company that may be paying his salary pretty soon. And not only is he talking to me, he’s talking to our fucking CTO. Shouldn’t that warrant being on one’s best behavior? Yet he has the nerve to go into the first call not knowing what position he’s applying for, and barely knowing anything about our company at all. Also, we were way nicer than we could have been. We gave this guy a second interview. We even moved the time for him when he asked to have it adjusted the day before. And then he wants to leave before we’re finished with the second call? And he wants to schedule a third interview? I’m sorry, but you’re not in the position to do that. Like I said, we’re very nice and considerate people. We will gladly work with applicants to find a times that work for both them and us. But he obviously failed to recognize and respect our perspective. Instead of being appreciative of the time we were giving him, he treated it as if he was entitled. Yeah right. His last message really put the icing on the cake for me. He may as well have said, “Yeah screw you guys.” Look, I don’t care how much you don’t actually want the job, but you should present yourself in a professional manner. You’re supposed to say “Thank you for your time, I appreciate the opportunity.” Clearly this guy missed that life lesson.
Ok, this one is from my ever-growing set of dating adventures. Here’s the premise: I’m chatting with this couple, and the conversation has moved towards arranging a meetup. As we’re using the terrible interface of AFF, I suggest we switch to kik. “I don’t know what that is” he says. Dude, how about you fucking look it up? This alone irritates me. I didn’t know what kik was at one point either, but you know what I did when someone mentioned it? I went to this magical land called the internet and I educated myself. It was glorious. To make it worse, his reasoning was something along the lines of, “I’m not very technical.” Now, I realize I’m probably on the higher end of the tech-savvy spectrum, but we’re not talking about writing an operating system here. We’re talking about Googling something. If you can’t do that in today’s age, where the fuck have you been?
(I didn’t mean to start ranting that early…moving on). We continued using AFF to chat, because you know, apparently downloading an app is difficult. We work out a day and time to meet: Saturday at 5. Of course the missing part of that arrangement is location. It comes down to Friday night, and I’m still waiting for a reply to my inquiry of whether they enjoy sushi or not. And I’m getting bothered at this point, because I like knowing what my plans are well in advance. So Saturday rolls around, and I’m sitting there refreshing my messages every 10 minutes. Do I have a date tonight or what? I get dressed (which is a lot to ask of me on a Saturday, mind you). No message. I do my hair and make up. Still no message. It’s 4:30. I would have to leave now if I want to make it to the place I’ve attempted to suggest by our agreed upon time of 5. But still no message. It’s 5 now. Well, apparently getting dressed was a waste of time.
The next day was all about another sort of waiting game. What would the excuse be? Did someone die? Did you have to help a friend move all of a sudden? But yet again, no message. I waited until that evening before I finally said something. This is well over 24 hours past the time we were supposed to meet. I’m no stranger to being stood up, but I do like to know why. “Did I do something to offend you?” I ask. His reply: “What do you mean?”
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? We had a date! This date involved you. You agreed to Saturday at 5. Now tell me, what the hell were you doing that day? Were you not expecting to go somewhere? And this is what really gets me, you and your girlfriend were supposed to meet me. Between the two of you, you couldn’t have sent me some sort of acknowledgement? Or even recognized that you left me waiting around all day? Again he blamed his lack of technical aptitude. Again, that’s not a valid reason. You’re basically making an appointment. Say you’re supposed to go to the dentist, but you don’t show up. What’s your excuse then? Do you not understand how calendars work? Do you not understand the concept that on this day at this time you’re supposed to go to this place for this activity? There’s nothing technical about that. This is about awareness and consideration, and you’re clearly lacking in both. So thanks for wasting my time.
For clarity, I’m not actually angry about either of these situations. I’m a little frustrated that my time was wasted, but mostly I’m astounded at how these people didn’t seem to realize how they were presenting themselves. It’s mind blowing.
So please, if there’s any lesson to be learned here, be aware and respectful of the people you talk to. They have their own busy lives to deal with and yet they’re making time for you. You should recognize that and be grateful.