Certain problems are so common that after you hear no more than a sentence and a half, the whole messy situation comes to mind. For instance, see how long it takes before you can identify where these common problems are headed.
At the end of last week s meeting Jane said to Joe, So you ll get the report done?
Absolutely, Joe exclaimed, mentally figuring how to fit another assignment onto a plateful of tasks so overflowing that it was starting to interfere with his bowling.
A week passes , and Jane is at the door: I needed that report yesterday afternoon. Can I have it now?
Now? I had that scheduled for next week, Joe laments.
Jane responds by rolling her eyes: You must have known I needed it.
Joe hates that eye thing and responds under his breath : My crystal ball was at the cleaners.
What was that? Jane asks, raising her voice.
Nothing, Joe grunts.
You said something! Jane accuses him.
I said ˜My eye is on the ball, and I mean it! Joe lies.
During a formal review discussion Barb talked to her direct report Johnson about being more creative. Her exact words were, During the next quarter I want you to use more creativity. You know, come up with more ideas on your own.
In an effort to be more creative, Johnson did indeed come up with more ideas on his own, just as he was asked to. That was the good news. The bad news was that he also implemented many of his ideas without involving Barb or anyone else. He interpreted the request to be more creative as permission to do pretty much whatever he pleased.
When Barb eventually learned that Johnson had changed the company s entire inventory system and hadn t given her so much as a heads-up, she blew a gasket and told him that he had gone well beyond his authority. He responded by arguing that he was just trying to be more creative and now she was taking him to task for doing what she had asked him to do all along.
Dad is stewing. It s a sultry summer night, and for the last hour and a half he has been staring at the clock. During that time he has tried very hard not to get angry . It s now 1:24 a.m., and his daughter opens the door. Dad shouts: Shelly, you re really late!
No, I m not, Dad. Last week my friend Sarah didn t come home until nine the next morning; that s really late.
Don t be smart-mouthed with me! Dad retorts. You re supposed to be in by midnight, and you ve been coming in late all month.
You re right Shelly says with a sly smile. I have been coming in at about 1 a.m. for a month, ever since my birthday. And you haven t said one thing about it at all until now. I thought it was okay.
Dad comes back with his best quip: Well, ah, ah, hmmm. . . .