Taking the High Road

Yesterday, Emily and I had a pretty crappy morning.

It was the first day of drama camp for her at a new local arts center. Emily loves the stage (don’t know where she gets it *grin*) and after having two other camps be canceled earlier this year she had been looking forward to it all summer.

We arrived and checked the place out. After a half hour of waiting it was obvious that something wasn’t right and that once again she was going to be disappointed.

I was angry because we had paid for this camp weeks ago and if something had changed we expected a phone call or email letting us know what was going on.

But, even in my anger, I wanted to make sure that I used this as a chance to show Emily how to correctly handle the situation. Yes, I vented both on Twitter and Facebook, but even now as I write this, I’m not mentioning the company by name because honestly you don’t need to know it and it wouldn’t help the situation at all.

As I called and left a voice mail with the company, I made sure Emily heard how I handled it.

I was direct and let them know how disapointed we were and how it was not the way to make a first impression. At the time I didn’t know that my wife was also leaving them a message since I had been texting her updates while we waited.

This could have easily been the end of the story, but I’m happy to report that it isn’t.

The person responsible called my wife and apologized. They had canceled the camp the week before and said point blank that they dropped the ball and there was no excuse for not notifying us sooner. She took full ownership for the mistake and when it was suggested she might want to say sorry to my daughter she jumped at the opportunity.

Emily is excited because she wants to go back and see what other classes she can take there. The simple act of owning the mistake and saying sorry made the horrible first impression wash away.

Remaining level headed and civil is always the right decision.

Far too often we jump from angry to asshole without any care for the person(s) on the other end.

Next time before you blow, pause and ask if it is really worth it. The high road is usually the right one, even if it isn’t the easiest one.


This post is part of the #PositivelySocial movement that Frank Eliason proposed. I can’t wait to read the others that take part. 

  • Sometimes doing the right thing and holding back doesn’t feel like it eases the release you need when you’re angry about something. But you know what? It feels a lot better in hindsight, because you have to live with your actions far beyond just at that moment. And that’s what is going to make you feel better in the long run. Good for you for doing what was right.

    • Exactly!

      Every day I see someone do something stupid or saying something towards me that I don’t appreciate. While I’d love to pounce and smack them around, I know in the long run it isn’t going to change them OR make it better.

  • Well done! There’s enough anger and disrespect out there. We need more people acting with grace and composure (not that I always do!).

    • We all have our moments when we don’t. I know I’m far from a Saint 🙂

  • In my younger days I can admit this was a huge lesson that was lost on me. Still is sometimes, but 99% of the time I realize people make mistakes and I am no different. It is amazing how if every person would understand the value of these three things how much better life would be:

    1. Say thank you.
    2. Say you are sorry, swiftly and with humility.
    3. Say the words “I don’t know” followed up with “but I will do my best to find out for you.”

    I might be known as the “nicest sledgehammer you will ever meet” (actual LinkedIn recommendation for me, but I try to live by those three things.

    • Three very important things indeed.

      I’ll never forget on a performance review early in my career I had a manager put “He isn’t afraid to ask questions.”

      At first I wasn’t sure how to explain it, but he told me that he liked that I was ok with admitting that I didn’t know the answer to everything in the world and was willing to come out and say that and then ask more about it so I could know next time.

      • Now if only account service people would understand that:)

  • So very true. I’ve always done my best to vent/rant privately so I’m more level headed when it comes time to deal with situations more rationally. Not that that always works 🙂

    Good on them for taking responsibility and actually picking up the phone to call you to apologize. Far too much evading responsibility going on these days, as well as overreacting to perceived slights/wrongs. I could live quite happily without seeing a “fail” attached to a rant ever again. Maybe it is just more magnified since we live in such a connected world, but we could all do better to stop, take a breath and think before we go thermonuclear on someone.

  • Soooooooooooo no more [name redacted] pasta sauce kerfuffles? I’m actually serious, should my reputation get in the way of this comment, because I’m curious if this is just a day of kumbaya or is there a bar being set and if the bar is being set, to what height will it’s placement be? I’m a big fan of leading by example, but I also know people are people and the Internet is the Internet and well, that’s like mixing tequila with Colt 45; it never ends well, but you can choose a different cocktail and if, on those days, when you want to drink a Mickey’s and a Mr Boston’s vodka, which you are free to do, perhaps it gets internalized. Now how’s that for bad analogies?

    • While I strive to take the high road all the time, I’m human and sometimes I decide to take the other road.

      Even after I laid into those guys, I followed it up with two more very heart felt and helpful posts because I couldn’t just leave it as the initial angry one that I did.

      As for the rest of your ramble…..who knows.

  • Nice post C.C. I’ve discovered that patience and understanding often rewards the unhappy customer. A few years ago I arrived at Heathrow Airport to discover that British Air gave away my seat to SFO because I hadn’t checked in online (their new policy). After my initial outrage, I dealt calmly with a BA supervisor, ceded the now one available seat to another business traveler who HAD to be in SF by a certain time. BA and the supervisor put me on a flight a few hours later through Vancouver – in business class (those nice pods) and gave me a debit card with $600 Euros on it. I got home about 3 hours later than I would have – finished a presentation because I was in a nice seat, and got some nice cash. Perhaps I would have gotten the same “package” from BA if I had yelled and screamed at the supervisor…but maybe not. Good karma usually pays dividends.

    • Good karma always comes back around. That much I know for sure.

      Glad to hear it paid off for you and that in the end it wasn’t as much of an inconvenience as it could have been. Nice when it works out that way.

  • Kjell Kallman

    Lots of great comments for your post – just wanted to say how much I enjoyed how you included a learning opportunity for Emily. Truly a Digital Dad!

    • Thank you. I think any good parent is always on the look out for teachable moments.