It all happened in a split second... like with many things it seems.
An incident happened about three hours into a short road trip with Syd and Big Red. As I was making a lane change, I had to veer back to the safety of my original lane as another car quickly sped by. Everyone was a little startled but there were no injuries or coffee split.
Seconds later there was an onslaught of comments, corrections and instructions regarding how I could improve my driving.
- "What are you doing, trying to get into an accident?"
- "Aren't you using your mirrors?"
- "You are supposed to look over your shoulder before you change lanes?"
- "We could have been in an accident... are you sure you can drive all the way?"
- "You aren't just supposed to use your mirror, but actually look over your shoulder." (There seemed to be some disagreement with this point among my critics)
As my tolerance started to wane and it became apparent neither of them where going to self correct, I just started to laugh, rather loudly I should add.
As they quieted I asked, " So you two are lecturing me because I did everything correctly?"
I went on to say, "There was a car in my blind spot; by using the mirrors and then looking over my shoulder I was able to see the car and turned away before I side swiped it". I ended with, "Didn't I do everything you two were saying I should be doing and avoided an accident?"
Almost in unison they said, "Yes". I laughed some more.
As I look back at this smiling, I am reminded of some lessons I've earned over the years.
- People generally do not like surprises... constant and predictable is the way they want it. A General Manager once offered me sage insight telling me that leaders do not like surprises; bad news may be hard to deliver, but surprises are disastrous.
- There are many people who are waiting for the opportunity to tell you what you are doing wrong. Constructive criticism should be welcomed and encouraged; it serves everyone well - Simple criticism serves only the few.
- When something happens, it is best to start with the question, "What just happened?" Or some derivative of this, depending on the situation and context.
- Laughter is a natural "attention grabber". In one form or another, people will ask, "What's so funny?" - And then you can tell them. Granted, depending on the situation and who is asking, it may be a tense conversation.
- Laughter and doing serious business are not mutually exclusive; in fact laughter may just be the only thing to get you through the difficult times.
As an aside, my ability to drive didn't come up the rest of the road trip.
Keep on laughin'.