Not long ago a situation took place in my business that was a little painful, but I thought I would share it with you because it teaches such a great lesson.
Occasionally, we get an order for some of our products from someone who is incarcerated. That was the case recently when we received a letter and an order for one of my books from an inmate. The letter was a very gracious in thanking me for all the wonderful information that the individual had learned from me. The person shared how his life was changed for the better after having listened to some of my tapes and reading several of my books. The praise went on and on as to how wonderful I was and how much I had helped his life. After reading the letter, we filled the order. It was a touching personal experience.
However, a few days later the package was returned because of an insufficient address. Although we had put the correct name on the package, we failed to include the inmate’s number. We had no idea that was a requirement by the prison. We immediately corrected our error and re-sent the package.
In the meantime, we got a rather “nasty” letter from this same person demanding that we send the book immediately. He told us that he worked hard for the money he had sent to purchase the book and he fully expected it to be sent! He expressed his disappointment over how slow our service was and the fact that he had not already received his book.
I felt that the letter was a bit harsh, but we had already corrected our error and returned the book. A few days passed and we got another letter. This time he said that he was going to report us to the Better Business Bureau! He said how upset he was and that he could hardly believe how unprofessional and sorry and no good we were. The letter went down hill from there! This time he demanded a full refund and again warned that we would be reported to the Better Business Bureau.
Once more the package was returned to us! This time it was returned because the inmate had been moved to another prison facility and was no longer at the address on the package. I could not believe that this simple situation was turning into such a horrible nightmare! We got the correct address of the new prison and sent the book, along with a letter of explanation and apology and a full refund of his check. I was sorry for the incident, but glad that we were able to help the individual, in spite of his unfortunate attitude towards us. Apparently I did not change his life that much after all!
Now, don’t get me wrong – as I stated earlier, we did make a mistake by not putting the inmate’s number on the original package. However, it was an honest mistake and since we do not fulfill many orders to prisoners, we were not aware that his inmate number was an important part of the address information. In the end, the book and a full refund was finally received at the prison facility to which he had been transferred.
Why am I taking the time to tell you this story? It is because I have given a lot of thought to this situation since it occurred. I have wondered if one of the reasons that this individual ended up in prison could be because of his “reactionary mindset”. I hope this doesn’t sound like I am being judgmental. I am just trying to point out something that I have learned in my own life that I believe will be an important Tip to help us all in the future.
When things don’t go the way you had planned, do you immediately go to anger, hostility or bitterness? If so, have you ever stopped to consider that there may be a legitimate reason taking place which you may be totally unaware? Perhaps the person that you were dealing with has had a difficult day. Maybe there are extenuating circumstances that are unknown to you. Maybe you sent your email address, but the other person needed your physical address! If all you do is go through life reacting when things don’t go your way, it will not be long before you end up in prison. Oh, and by the way, I am not talking about a prison with bars; I am talking about an emotional prison, where you become enslaved by your unfulfilled expectations of other people’s decisions. Your attitude towards others will always be, “You owe me!” It is indeed a very difficult way to live one’s life.
I can assure you that disappointments are something that we all face. However, I have lived long enough to see disappointing situations turn around. I realize that timing in such cases is a very important matter. When things don’t go the way I want them to, I have learned that if I give them a few more days, often things turn around in a way that is totally unexpected.
I don’t know where you are today in your own personal life as far as your expectations are concerned. Perhaps there is a family member or a business situation that has disappointed and upset you so much that you would really like to tell off someone. Let me encourage you to just let it go. Give the situation a little more time. I have discovered that many circumstances are like sores; if you “pick” at them, they tend to get infected, but if left alone, they often heal by themselves.
The situation with the inmate and the book is a perfect example of someone’s disappointment and reaction to unmet expectations. Things happened which he was unaware and he jumped to conclusions that were not accurate. He allowed his emotions to get the better of him simply because he didn’t know what he didn’t know – but if he had looked into the situation a little more closely, he could have found out!
Is it possible that the last time you got all “bent out of shape” things could have been entirely different had you simply known a few more facts? Next time, give the other person a “get out of jail free” card. There is a lot of personal freedom that comes with that kind of behavior. You will be the winner for it!
Tip: You don’t know what you don’t know – but you can find out!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm