They say things happen for a reason, and I am one of those people who truly believes that. In any situation there are always several ways to look at things. Those who are pessimists tend to only see the negative side of things and focus on the bad things associated with the occurring event. Then there are the optimists who have a way of finding good in even the most troubling situation.
I like being optimistic. Call me a fool, but I would rather go through my life with anticipation and hope rather than anger and despair. I do always try to look for the best in people and give them the benefit of the doubt. It is sometimes difficult to do this, especially when one feels that they have been wronged. The tendency is to lash out and blame people and blast them for the wrongdoing – many times before all the facts have been gathered. When we are angry it is natural for us to react this way. But many times it is misdirected and our actions only make the problems worse.
As many of you know, I recently had a big disappointment regarding the publication of a project that I had worked very hard on and was very close to my heart. On Saturday night, upon seeing the magazine and finished article for the first time, I realized that there was no way for the readers to contact me listed anywhere. This was a bitter disappointment because the entire purpose of this article was to expand my customer base and reach an entirely new audience with what I thought was one of my best projects to date.
I was angry, frustrated and downright MAD. Someone who commented on the post said he would have exploded. Believe me, I felt exactly the same. I wanted to throw something and stamp my feet and have an all out tantrum. I also wanted to cry. Oh, and yell at someone too. These are all (I feel) natural responses from someone who had been wronged. I don’t think many would have really blamed me if I had behaved like that.
But fortunately, I discovered this error on a Saturday. I knew that nothing could be done or said about it until Monday morning at best and that, my friends, was a true blessing. I am not saying that if I had the opportunity that I would have blasted anyone, but as time goes on and I get more experience in life, I found that for myself at least that I do far better with confrontation when I am not angry and have cooled down a bit.
Although I was still upset, I spent Sunday doing other things that I loved to do and would help bring me to a better place emotionally. After venting in Sunday morning’s blog to you all, it got much of the anger out of my system. Venting is a great exercise if done properly and does help relieve the pressure that is building in a situation such as this. I then spent the day painting and cooking and doing things that gave me pleasure made me feel better.
While I was painting, my mind was on the situation. I thought through what had happened and came to the realization that perhaps it was NOT a conspiracy against me and that an honest mistake had been made. We all make mistakes. We are busy people and they are bound to happen. Magazine people are always busy. I have worked with them a long time and I know that. Add to that the new editor and policies and personnel and all the other factors and logic tells me that perhaps it was an innocent and unfortunate mistake. By the end of the day, I came to the conclusion that before I sentenced them all in my mind, I should at least give them a chance to explain what happened. It is how I would want to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot.
I looked at my options. I could have called my editor from my woodworking magazine, as they were in the same building and he kind of knew the staff at Christmas 365 as their offices were just across the room from each other. He was a go-between when I was going to pull the project a couple of months ago and did some negotiation for me regarding the project. However, I somehow didn’t feel like I wanted to involve him. This was my project and I am an adult and for some strange reason I wanted to handle it myself. (Perhaps I am evolving as a businesswoman?)
I could email the former editor who was still on the staff and was my contact for the project. But I thought it through and there were several issues that had occurred with her recently that told me that it wasn’t the way to go. There were problems with my contract, my address and the initial lack of communication over the past eight months that told me that if I were to go through her again, things would not be addressed in the way I wanted them to be. Perhaps it wasn’t fair on my part, but previous experiences told me that the poor communication may have been part of the problem in the first place and frankly I had little confidence that dealing with her would result in anything being done.
The only and best way that I could see was to go straight to the new editor himself. I had a friend when I lived in Chicago that taught me that if you want anything done, you go to the highest official you can. Be it the president of the company or the owner. I found that strategy to be more successful than not and it saves load of time and frustration that is wasted on someone who can’t get anything done for you trying to find someone you can. So to the top it was.
I called him when I returned from my appointment and he wasn’t yet in the office. I left a message for him to call me, explaining who I was and leaving my phone number. Nothing was said as to what my call was regarding. I didn’t want to scare him off with too much information. I figured it would be a while or perhaps days before he returned my call. After all, he was the editor of not only this magazine, but two others and also had other aspects of his business that were quite involved. However, within probably ten minutes, the phone rang and it was him. I sucked in my breath and answered.
I began the conversation by telling him how much I like the way he displayed my figures and thanked him for the nice spread in the magazine. I told him I was very happy with they way things looked. I then very gently told him that I was wondering why there was no contact information so that people could buy the set of figures from me. When I said that he said “What do you mean?”
I further explained that besides saying it was designed by me, there was no contact information. His reaction was that of both surprise and disbelief. He said “No – that can’t be!” and proceeded to tell me how that was the whole purpose of the scene was to help promote this set. He spent the next ten minutes or so leafing through the magazine to see for himself that it wasn’t there and he was apologizing and telling me how “horrific” this was. (He used the word “horrific” several times, and I was glad he felt the same way I did!) He asked his assistant to bring in his copy sheets of the magazine so he could see if that was where the error was made and he told me that they would do all they could to make it better. I told him that all the information was on the sign off sheets that I received of the instructions and that somehow between when I signed off on them and when they got the print they disappeared. He said he would find out who did it and what happened and promised that something would be run in the next issue and that they would do their best to make it up to me. The more calm I was, the more upset he seemed to be.
I couldn’t have asked for a better response.
Although there is nothing that could be done to immediately fix things (the next issue is not out for three months – well past this Christmas) he also offered to put a correction on their website immediately, which I realize is the best they can do. I do feel however, that they will do what they can to rectify this for me and make it better. That was all I wanted.
There is a moral to this story. It truly does pay to do things in a calm and non-confrontational manner. Even if things aren’t just what you think you are. Many times our reactions are clouded by emotion and as a result we can make things much worse and make ourselves appear foolish. I find that when presented with situations such as this, even if I know I am wronged I try to vent and cool down a bit before responding. There isn’t one incident that I can think of where this strategy has failed me.
I feel that I have shown myself to be reasonable and understanding. That didn’t mean that I let it go and was a door mat for people’s errors. I just meant that I am able to stand my ground in a professional manner. Hopefully that will be remembered and has earned me some respect. In the time that we were talking on the phone, he went on about how he loved this set and how the photography department also love it and had so much fun with it and he thought it was incredible. I can’t help but think that the next time I submit a design to him, he will remember not only my design, but also how I handled this problem.
I left the conversation with him looking into things. He is going to get back to me after he finds out what happened. I hung up the phone with a renewed sense of confidence and I was proud of myself for handling this problem in what I feel was the correct way. I have every confidence in him that there will be a positive resolution to this and I also have a renewed trust that he wants things good (as I do) and is a trustworthy business contact.
That, as they say – is “priceless”.
I spent the rest of the day updating my site and putting the set front and center there for those who come to look for it. It was a good, positive feeling to see it finally presented there for others to see.
Thank you again to all of you who are my friends here for your invaluable advice and friendships and allowing me to vent here and sort through all these things. I am very happy I have found you.
Have a wonderful Tuesday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"