Remember when the love of your life let it rip for the first time?
Dad was painting his house when he heard JFK had been shot.
I was waiting for the bus on a dark December morning when I learned John Lennon was gone forever.
How strange that our brains index certain memories this way.
Do you remember where you were when that special someone — that gorgeous, intelligent person that seemed too good to be true — let one rip right in front of you for the very first time?
I grew up in a conservative, religious home. In a house full of kids, including adopted kids, neighborhood kids and foreign exchange kids. We were reared (pun intended) to be respectful. Especially when it came to containing bodily noises.
I had to attend Etiquette Class as a kid. Under no circumstance were you to fart in public … or as my mom called it, “passing wind”.
I made it through High School without ever hearing a member of the opposition sex cut the cheese. Stack of Bibles. And when I departed for college, I was under the impression this just wasn’t something girls did.
And then it happened.
If you have ever truly and completely loved someone, and then, for whatever reason, they pinch one off within earshot for the first time, it can be fairly traumatic.
Whether it sounded like a mouse squeak or a violent clap of thunder, it can be quite an unsettling experience for all involved.
Where am I going with this nonsense? Well, people do this metaphorically in business every day.
We work so hard to create new customers and develop meaningful working relationships. We go to extreme measures to impress others in order to convey our profound level of commitment, dedication and professionalism. And then, when everything appears to have reached unprecedented levels of goodness, the apple of your eye does the unthinkable. Or worse, you do. And nothing will ever be the same. But that’s OK. Because it isn’t natural for us to sustain this kind of unrealistic expectations in the first place.
The truth is, everybody farts. Literally and figuratively. Get over it.
The next time you catch yourself either trying to produce completely unrealistic results in order to impress a client or colleague, or worse, the next time you embarrass yourself by nearly sharting yourself in a collaborative situation, do yourself a favor. Follow these three simple steps:
- Offer a simple apology. Then go for a really long walk.
- After the walk, using 100 words or less, write down what you learned from the situation and what you can do to avoid doing it again.
- If you can’t get face-to-face, call the person and talk through the situation. Whatever you do, find a way to inject some humor.
Here’s what I’ve experienced after most post-fart standoffs:
It doesn’t take long for everyone to see the situation as a shared experience. A gift, really … a kind of unique breakthrough that can lead to new levels of honesty, mutual respect and collaboration.