I was skimming through my emails looking for something else when I remembered it.
Between the amazon receipts and updates from my favorite newsletters, I saw the three-week old order confirmation for a free tee shirt.
I got the shirt for being a long-time customer of a brand that will remain nameless for reasons that will soon be obvious.
I had an order confirmation, but, as I skimmed my emails again, I had never gotten a shipping conformation, or even a notice that said the expected delivery time. Some mild irritation began gathering in my neck and forehead, where I tend to hold on to my anger and stress.
Three weeks was plenty of time to ship a Tee shirt.
What was UP Here?
Master Challenging Conversations (and get Kind Leadership tips every weekday)
The Kind Leadership Challenge Community
I was skimming through my emails looking for something else when I remembered it. Between the amazon receipts and updates from my favorite newsletters, I saw the three-week old order confirmation for a free tee shirt. I got the shirt for being a long-time customer of a brand that will remain nameless for reasons that will soon be obvious. I had an order confirmation, but, as I skimmed my emails again, I had never gotten a shipping conformation, or even a notice that said the expected delivery time. Some mild irritation began gathering in my neck and forehead, where I tend to hold on to my anger and stress. Three weeks was plenty of time to ship a Tee shirt. What was UP Here?
Welcome to the Kind Leadership Challenge, where I empower educational and library leaders like you to detox your organizations! I’m Sarah Clark, founder of the Kind Leadership Guild. My PhD in higher ed Leadership, my experience coaching, consulting, and presenting to library leaders all over the world, and a career working in academic libraries from the front desk to the Dean’s office taught me that leaders don't have to be perfect to build a better world. And now I want to share those same lessons with you.
Here's the deal. You give me the next few minutes of your day. In return, I'll share short stories and simple challenges designed to heal yourself and your school or library, so you can get back to making the impact you wish to see in your communities. By embarking on each week’s challenge on your own or with the community of over 1000 kind leaders in our private facebook group, you and your team will begin growing humanely, managing effectively, and partnering collaboratively, and your school or library will build a more informed and educated world along the way.
How do you successfully navigate challenging conversations so that you can heal your team culture and acquire the resources you need to thrive?
Mastering Challenging Conversations is a free set of checklists where I show your how to apply the three core principles of kind leadership to planning, conducting, and moving forward from a challenging leadership conversation. Just go to Kindleadershipchallenge.com/conversations, enter your email and start having the conversations that will make you and your organization burnout proof, heal your team's culture, connect your organization to the resources you need to thrive, and impact your community for the better.
Again, just head on over to kindleadershipchallenge.com/conversations to learn more and get your free guide.
So, back to the case of the missing tee shirt. For whatever reason, I semi-consciously started working through a framework that I’ve been developing around emotional self-care for kind leaders. It’s got four steps—Feel, Forgive, Trust, and Nurture.
Step 1, I checked in with myself to see what I was feeling, and if there were any big emotions I needed to process. Irritation, but also some curiosity. This wasn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, but I did want the tee shirt. Nothing needed to be felt more fully. Second? Forgive. Well, the good news was that there wasn’t anything to forgive in myself, and although this company’s communication wasn’t great, it wasn’t terrible either. Easy to forgive, as long at the problem was addressed. Third, what needed to happen for me to trust that the T shirt would show up? Well, I’d need to talk to a customer service rep to make sure the shirt was on its way, and get an ETA. And that led to the final step, Nurture—where I grow that trust in myself and others by taking the actions and getting the information I identified in the previous step. This wasn’t a huge, emotionally weighty problem, so all this introspection took maybe 30 seconds. I fired up the company’s customer support chatbox, and confirmed that they did have my free tee shirt order on file, but that it indeed hadn’t been shipped yet. The rep would check with the shipping department and email me the next day. Great!
Until three days passed with no word from customer service. That tight forehead was back, and my teeth were starting to grind along with it.
Take two. Feelings. Similar to last time, but stronger. I didn’t need to go have a primal scream or anything to make sure I didn’t blow up at customer service, but I would need to watch my tone. Forgive. This one was a bit trickier, as they’d now not dome something they’d promised. But I also had a sneaking suspicion they were probably shorthanded right now, so I could dredge up some compassion. Trust—I would need an apology, AND an ETA. SO with that, I nurtured that trust by opening another chat with customer service. This time it was a mixed result. Rep #2 apologized profusely and said they would get an ETA for me, but again, I’d have to wait for an email the next day.
Two more business days passed.
And No T-shirt.
At this point, my mild annoyance had bloomed into full-on righteous indignation—partly from too many years managing a library front desk, but mostly because I expected better from this particular brand! I definitely needed to feel some feelings before this next chat. Writing my emotions has been a long-time go to for me, so I indulged in a nice multiparagraph rant about the many shortcomings of the handling of this situation. I may have also banged my head gently on my desk. In any case, my neck and shoulders had loosened some, and I felt I could have a productive conversation. Step 2 was forgiveness—Could I let go of my feelings so they couldn’t weigh me down? Well, we were past me being able to pre-emptively let go. I wanted to maintain my positive relationship with this company, but I was going to need to see some proof that they still deserved that relationship. Or as President Reagan once said, Trust, but Verify.
And speaking of trust, I was going to need at least an estimate of a delivery date before I got off the chat. And if they couldn’t offer one, I would ask to be escalated or transferred to someone who could give me that estimate. So I took a deep breath, made sure that the most intense of my emotions had flowed through me and wouldn’t spill out in the chat, and contacted customer support again.
Rep #3 promptly told me something that would have saved me two extra chats and some annoyance, but I wouldn’t have had this podcast anecdote either. As soon as he heard my tale, he informed me that there was a two month shipping delay on the free shirts due to supply issues.
And like that, my fury evaporated, though I was still a bit miffed reps 1 & 2 hadn’t told me that. I was also very glad I had made sure I was in a professional headspace before each conversation, as I would have felt pretty terrible had I lost my temper with any of the reps I’d chatted with.
As I write this, we’re about 6 weeks out from when I ordered my free tee shirt. No shipping confirmation yet, but I don’t expect to see it for at least a week. I’ll keep y’all updated.
But between now and then, for the rest of this week I’m going to be sharing some more thoughts on feeling, forgiving, trusting, and nurturing in my daily emails. Head over to Kindleadershipchallenge.com/conversations, and not only will you get the Mastering challenging conversations checklist, you’ll get my daily questions and mini-challenges. I’ll also be talking about the feel-forgive-trust-nurture cycle in the challenge facebook group, so if you want a more interactive experience, head over to kindleadershipchallenge.com/community. The choice is yours!
Thanks for listening and for taking action to become a kinder leader. If you found this week’s episode insightful, give the show a rating or review—or even better, tell your fellow leaders! Never doubt that day by day, you’re building a better world, even if you can't see it yet. So until next time, stay kind now.