I cannot stress how important it is to know the full story before accusing someone of not trying.
Today, I was accused (in so many words) of being disrespectful, thoughtless, and rude for not having informed someone earlier of the potential that I would no longer be able to take part in an activity I’d signed up for. The activity is the day after tomorrow – I emailed her (the person who had organised the activity) yesterday. Yes, I will admit, this objectively does look like really late notice.
The reason was because suddenly, a competition team I’m in was scheduled to compete on the same day. We were told of this last week.
You’re probably thinking – what, you found out last week and you only told this person about it yesterday?!
Yes, that’s true. But here’s why.
I knew this person was incredibly busy organising the event, and, being less busy organising it, I hoped to sort this out for her without adding another worry to her plate. In the week following the announcement of our competition date, I emailed two of our competition coordinators, plus the coordinator from the opposing team (I’m not even sure if I was allowed to do this haha), and eventually went to our principal because every other point of contact was getting me… absolutely nowhere. I even picked out an alternative date and specified a time and place that would work for all members of my competition team. No reply.
In the meantime, I secured a fill-in to take over for me in the first activity in case I was unsuccessful in moving our competition. I told her about the requirements and she agreed to be my backup. I knew that if worst came to worst, at least my activity team wouldn’t be one man down.
Today, I received two emails. One, my principal informing me that the mock trial had finally been moved in order to accommodate the activity I had committed myself to. I was relieved and happy and began typing out an email to let my activity organiser know that I would no longer have to drop out.
But I found I already had an email from her, telling me how disappointed she was in my laziness and lack of commitment to the activity when I had signed up for it myself. She told me how much effort she had put into this and how stressed out she had been dealing with it all. I knew of this, of course – that was the very reason I’d tried to figure out the clash issue myself behind-the-scenes instead of freaking out about it and dropping the job onto her. The email concluded with a brief apology about being so pedantic – but not before passive aggressive questions about why I hadn’t told her earlier and how she still expected to see me at the activity since the competition had been moved.
I was at a loss. I stared at this email, frustrated and slightly upset that although I was copping all the blame for something I had tried so hard to fix. My other competition team members, two of whom also signed up for this activity, had done little to deal with the issue, with an oh well, I’m sure it’ll sort itself out kind of outlook. I had never at any point, however, accused them of being lazy or self-absorbed. I had never criticised their ‘priorities’, I had just tried my best to sort things out. This is because I don’t believe in spending time getting angry at something someone failed to fix if you can spend that time fixing that thing instead. That’s what I had tried to do.
I sent my organiser a cautiously worded reply email explaining that I hadn’t intended to disrespect her or the integrity of the activity. I had been looking forward to the activity for weeks – this is completely honest. I have to admit I was a little hurt by her email. Although it is true my email was late notice, I didn’t think she had to take it to personal attacks to prove her point to me. I’m very passionate about this activity. To be brusquely told otherwise was… well, unexpected.
This probably sounds incredibly whiney. To be honest, I just had to get it off my chest. And also to note: lesson learned. I didn’t like being accused with the facts of only half the story. I’ll remember that next time I mistakenly leap to do the same thing.