When I’m impatient and frustrated, I try to think of this

A lot changed for me this year in my personal life – more on that in a moment. The disruption gave me renewed commitment to follow the example of a tenderhearted PR pro who emailed during the throes of a COVID crisis.

This week-before-Christmas edition follows an annual tradition around here and gets deeper about life beyond media relations.

The newsletter subscriber who wrote me was running media relations for a big-city hospital during one of those COVID spikes you’d hear about on the national news. She shared what she was learning about the lengths the media will go during a crisis:

They’ll show up even if you tell them they aren’t allowed. They’ll try to take photos/shoot videos of people and places they aren’t supposed to. Patients and their families will invite media onsite without permission. And so on.

I thought she was going to vent about how frustrating it all was. Bear in mind she was sweating through layers of head-to-toe PPE the whole time she was dealing with all these incursions. But instead she wrote this:

Disclosure: I believe in God and His grace. This experience has shown me His grace in all forms – extending it to others and receiving it. All of us – journalists, PR personnel, etc. – are learning through these new moments together.

Her patient and unselfish perspective stuck with me.

As fate would have it, I’ve needed to rely on receiving grace from others big-time this year because of a major challenge outside of work.

I don’t mean to be mysterious but would like to protect some privacy, so I’ll just say that personally I’m fine, but personal responsibilities have led me to drastically cut back on activities not essential to my business. I had to stop regular phone calls with very dear professional friends. No more Zooms or calls to “catch up” or “see if there’s a fit somewhere.”

I sorely miss those, and it hurts every time someone emails and proposes that we “hop on a call” and I have to decline. I never thought I would be “that guy.”

That’s just it, though. When “that guy,” in my past, didn’t accept my invitation to grab lunch or set up a call, he probably WASN’T thinking the things I projected onto him.

He probably DIDN’T think he was too prominent to talk to me, or that I was not smart enough to be worth his time, or whatever judgement I levied against him.

Maybe his family needed him more than he needed to network with me. Maybe one of his team members needed him to cover for them because they were in crisis. Who knows?

Now that I am the one “receiving grace” from those who graciously accept me declining to connect with them, I’m trying to more consciously “give grace” readily to people who don’t treat me exactly the way I wish they would.

It doesn’t matter whether you draw your kindness and empathy from your own wellspring of goodness, or, like my subscriber and I, you believe in God and His grace. My experience this year has shown me that leaning toward patience and empathy is much more peaceful and rewarding than the alternative.

Thank you for reading my posts this year. I wish you all the happiness and success in the world.

P.S. If you’re newer here and in the mood for more Christmasy life lessons messages, here are a few from prior years:

“I don’t suck” – You’d be shocked at what many successful people really think of themselves.

A Christmas “miracle” – Your power to lift others when they’re down.

Warning lights are flashing – What are your most important priorities? No, really.

This article was originally published on December 22, 2021

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