What happens when you set an intention?
(Time to read: ~
True story: In 2006, my partner John and I were at an NVC training in Manhassett New York. One of the sessions was about dealing with anger and intensity.
The instructions were for Person A (me) to start off at a fairly low level of intensity and for Person B (John) to try to reflect back what was said, matching A’s level of intensity.
So I started off at what I thought was a fairly low level of intensity – and the whole rest of the room went silent as everyone turned and stared at me with their mouths open!
That the starkest feedback I’ve ever gotten that I’m pretty intense when I get angry. 🙂
My New Year’s Intention
So this year I decided I wanted to get better at turning down the intensity on my anger. (Yes, I’m noticing the ten-year delay…)
I outlined, step-by-step, what I want to do when I get angry so I will have more choice about my response.
I mentally practiced it each morning, so the steps would be fresh.
Then, as part of a different project, I decided I wanted to let go of my land line, keep my Internet with that provider, and use my cell phone for all my calls.
What followed was the most massive series of major blunders and errors I have ever experienced from any single organization – ever.
I was told that the rate would be X for 3 months and Y for the following 9 months.
The next time I called I was told that, even though I was required to commit to a one-year contract, the company would not commit to a fixed fee schedule and would decide month by month what it wanted to charge me during that contract!
I was assured that I didn’t need to change my modem (from 2007), but that I could get a new modem, for which I would be charged an additional monthly fee.
I said I didn’t want a new modem – my old one was working just fine. A new modem arrived anyway.
- I was assured by the first person that a technician would be there to make the transition on Friday and I didn’t need to be there.
- Then I got an automated phone call saying that a technician would be there on Wednesday and that I needed to be there and arrange for our building superintendent to be there also.
- Since I was scheduled to be out of town on Wednesday, I called and requested a change of date to Thursday.
The person I spoke to said that the first person didn’t have the authority to set the technician date but that she, the second person did, and it would be Thursday, as I requested.
- Then I got an automated phone call saying that a technician would be there on Friday.
- When I called back to query this, the third person I spoke to said that the second person didn’t have the authority to set the technician date, only to request a particular date.
- That date had been rejected so someone else, without asking me, had decided that I would like Friday and had requested a technician for that date.
The Last Straw
When Friday came, given this history of errors, I called to check that the company still thought the technician was coming on Friday?
Yes, that was the date they had in their system. And it was to be in unit 407, right?
What!?! For over ten years my phone and internet service has been 5 floors below that in Unit 002 – all with this same company.
The person explained that they had no record that I had ever had a phone or internet with their company. They thought this was a new installation…
So it wasn’t enough that they kept messing up my life, now they were threatening to disrupt the life of my neighbours!?!
So what happened with my intention?
In my experience, when you set an intention, life presents you with all kinds of opportunities to overthrow that intention. Which is exactly what happened in this case.
I got more and more intensely angry at each untruth that got uncovered through this series of events.
I have a tough time staying calm around technology problems at the best of times. And this was definitely not the best of times.
So how did I do with my intention?
I think I yelled (spoke about my frustration at a high decibel level) at every single person who told me something different than what the last person had told me.
To my credit (and thanks to NVC), I did apologize on each phone call, owning that my frustration was not at the person I was speaking to – who I realized was doing their best to support me – but at the fact that on every single phone call I discovered that the person on the previous phone call had apparently lied to me.
So now what?
I’ve learned that a very big part of me doesn’t want to moderate my intensity with people working for companies who set up their operations and training and incentive systems to create conditions that encourage their staff to lie to customers like me.
Partly because I hope my intensity will inspire those staff to take action for change within their organization – so customers like me get told an honest and consistent truth on each call, even if we may not like it.
And that a currently-much-smaller part of me does want to moderate my intensity with those people because I want everyone to enjoy their working life.
And I discovered that I didn’t want to
When Friday arrived
Then I got a phone call saying that
I was told that I needed to sign up for a one-year contract and that the fee would be X for the first 3 months, then Y for the rest of the term.
I was by Person 1 that the change would happen on Friday and I didn’t need to be home at the time.
Then I was told that Person 1 had no ability to know when the change would happen but that Person 2 did and she told me that the change would happen the following Thursday.