Annals of Sales: Overreacting

October 22, 2010 at 6:12 AM | Posted in Annals of Sales, Personal Development | 4 Comments
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Who feels sorry for a phone?

One day back in 1989 I threw my phone against the wall in my office and it broke into a thousand pieces. Five years after that incident I received, for the first and only time, a letter to my home from a former rep who worked for me, indirectly. Even though I got the impression that the fellow was drunk when he wrote it, it was painful to read. In addition to my many sins he said it was well-known that I threw a phone at one of my employees.

What happened was this: it was the last day of the fiscal year and one of our best reps had worked really hard for a customer, met his every whim patiently, and the customer promised to sign the order on that last day — and this was an order that the rep needed to make quota. Well, the sniveling, conniving bastard didn’t even show for work that day. When I heard this, the phone flew — it flew out of anger at the coward and out of sympathy for the rep. There was no one beside myself in my office at the time.

Now, in addition to overreacting, I have under-reacted and, hopefully, reacted perfectly at least on occasion. The problem is that people tend to remember the highlight reel of fire-works.

So, I’ve decided to work on eliminating overreacting without getting ulcers in the process. I found a book, suitably titled, “Stop Overreacting” by Judith P. Siegel. I found it by just perusing, as is my wont, the New Book shelves at my library. I had to laugh!

The book offers a number of brief case studies that are helpful in keeping my belief intact that I’m not as bad as other people. (But as Tom Peters once wrote, that is not a great strategy for success.) The author asks the penitents to review their childhood for clues to the sources of overreaction. I dismissed this at first. I thought that if I was going to dish on childhood, I want to be on a psychiatrist’s coach, as if I was in a Woody Allen movie.

But as I did the exercises I did come up a possible source. It was not something horrible or tragic or even embarrassing. It was just something about everyday living that, perhaps, over-weighs on me.

I’m now happy about overreacting in that it gives me something to work on – something to react perfectly to.

(Full disclosure: I am referring in the above to non-sports overreacting. That is an Everest that I need greater training for.)


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  1. Great story. I’m reading a book right now called “Bury My Heart at Conference Room B” about managing and integrating your core values into your job rather than just relying on bulling your way through every situation. Just started it but it seems to get to some of this. I think that when I’ve overreacted in this fashion, it’s because I was frustrated about not being able to improve the situation. But that falls into two categories. One, as in your situation, it’s just too late to do anything and, two, there may be something to do but I can’t think of what it could be. The latter is far more frustrating.

    • Brian, please review the book once you have finished it. It sound appropriate to my latest thoughts.

      Good luck finishing off your series. I really think that the Rangers and SF belong in this year’s series. The Rangers were certainly better than the Yanks.

  2. So that’s the story behind the story. There have been times, some very recent, looked at my phone or the voice coming over the line and said, just throw it against the wall.

    • HAH! It is all so funny in retrospect.

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