Communication Gone Wrong

My son got a work e-mail the other day.  It was from a hiring manager telling him that he was not accepted for the position he applied for because the manager was looking for someone with more experience, blah,blah. The e-mail finished thanking him again for applying and being hopeful to keep the communication window open for the future. Disappointing news that he did not get the job, but that’s okay.

Problem was, my son never applied for the job.  To make things even worse, a peer of his that did apply and interview for the job GOT THE SAME EXACTLY-WORDED E-MAIL!


So why did he get the note? Hard to figure out the answer to that question.  He had an informational discussion with the same manager weeks before to find out about opportunities.   But other than that, they had not talked.

So what kind of excuses can we make for the manager?  They were really busy and accidentally sent it to the wrong person.  They wanted to close the loop from the original informal conversation.  They asked someone else to do it for them and gave the wrong set of names.

Hmmm.  None of those really work for me.  Communication is so important.  If you cannot communicate the right message to the right person, how good an employee are you?  Isn’t an interview worthy of something more than a generic e-mail?  What message does it send to someone when you say they are missing a number of skills, but you have not even talked to them about their experience?

I read a blog post by Ed Baldwin (here is the full post:  that really hit home.  Here are some of his words – and they are harsh – but right on:

“Busy isn’t cool.  In fact, BUSY IS THE NEW STUPID.  

Being busy makes us hurried, creates short-sightedness, expands blind spots, increases careless mistakes and results in missed opportunities that we can’t get back. Busyness creates more woulda, coulda and shoulda than anything else in our life – which ultimately leads to regret.  And regret sucks.

So the next time you find yourself apologetically telling someone that you would liked to have met them, responded to them, or just acknowledged their existence but couldn’t because you’ve been so busy, consider the REAL message(s) you’re sending them:

  1. My time is more important than yours.
  2. I’m not very good at prioritizing my time.
  3. I want you to judge me based on how busy I am, not how productive I am. 
  4. You aren’t a priority, or at least what you want to speak with me about isn’t a priority.”

Wow.  That really nails it on the head.  I am not trying to be harsh to this manager.  I am just using them as an example.  I guarantee we ALL have made communication mistakes similar to this.  Texting to the wrong person. Wrong e-mail to wrong person. Worse yet, not responding at all. Maybe actually really the worst, sending a generic e-mail to more than one person.

I make mistakes all of the time.  Do I always acknowledge them?  Do I try to learn from them?  Ehhhhhh.

That is why this instance with my son is such a great opportunity.  Sometimes the mistakes of others can be beacons of a spotlight for us to learn from.  That is how I look at this story of the manager and the job.  Am I “so busy” that other people are a low priority?  Might I use this story as a jolt for reassessing how I prioritize our time?  What is the true root of my busyness?  What message (stated or not, generic or not) am I delivering to a peer?  Give it some thought.

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