2024 Intentions

An image of Pup, the Jack Russell Terrier. She's quite old and lumpy now. She is fast asleep on the floor and looks a bit like a loaf of bread.

I have conflicting feelings about New Year’s resolutions. On one hand, it’s nice to reflect on the year that has passed and to think about the changes you'd like to make. On the other hand, it’s very cold and dark outside (up here in the northern hemisphere) and it feels unfair to expect anything from ourselves other than to continue overeating and napping. On the other hand, (I have three hands in this analogy) it’s easy to get in a rut during winter and having a reset right in the middle can be useful in getting out of it.

With all this in mind, and with my three hands firmly in my pockets, I’ve decided on an intention for 2024 that is to be more direct with people. I’m absolutely dreadful at having awkward conversations and most of the time I end up telling people what they want to hear. I’m a classic People Pleaser. It’s not always a bad thing, but there have been many occasions where not being direct has resulted in me being frustrated and led to an outcome that isn’t useful for anybody. Here’s a made up example:

  1. I hired someone to come out and paint my fence. They said they’d be here at 2pm on Tuesday
  2. They did not show up
  3. I waited a week to send them a message saying “Hi, do you think you would have time to come out and look at the fence this week? No worries if not!”
  4. When they eventually turned up, they didn’t do a great job (just one coat of paint)

The outcome is that I feel REALLY ANGRY, but I say “That’s great, thank you!” to the painter. I’m grumpy for a few weeks and then end up having to paint the fence myself. I can imagine someone similar to me (but perhaps more feisty), venting their anger by leaving a negative review, which wouldn’t really be fair since the painter wasn’t told about the issue and not given a chance to fix it.

What if, instead, I had called the painter when they didn’t show up and said “Hi, Paul The Painter, what time are you getting here today? Tomorrow works fine. Please give me notice if you can’t make it.”? And when they had just done one coat of paint, what if I’d said “You’ve done one coat of paint, but quoted for two. When will you be back to finish it?”

Those are two direct comments for me to make that would prevent resentment and frustration bubbling away inside. I think that’s what I’d like to focus on. You can be direct while being perfectly polite and friendly.

Like I say, I’m crap at being direct and I’m going to get it wrong lots of times before it becomes something I’m comfortable with, but I think it will help me to develop more meaningful relationships, which is something I’m quite excited by.

Happy New Year and please remember that it’s still winter and you should be focusing on staying soft and warm for a couple more months. No worries if not though!

Previous post: Forgetting To Think

Next post: Engineering Processes