No secret that (most) women are exquisitely attuned to the feelings of those around them — children, spouses, parents, friends, even the neighborhood barista serving up the daily cuppa joe. We know, without even thinking about it, who needs extra loving, who is in crisis and who is celebrating. We do this as naturally as breathing. And yet there comes a time when we must recognize this innate behavior and set it aside.
When my husband and I launched Picture a Conversation™, I knew I wanted to stay with local fabricators. I had a good working relationship with the printer for our His Lens/My Pen greeting card line, but he could not manufacture a box for us. I put the job out for bids and received one from a highly recommended firm that could do both the cards and the box. His box design was perfect but his bid put us over budget.
I dithered for days. Should I stretch the budget and go with the one manufacturer? But it didn’t seem right to pull business from the firm I’d worked with for two years. But what would the card-and-box man think if I only gave him half the job? He’d been so patient as I pulled together the specs. I was learning the ropes as I climbed. He’d taken so much time with me. I . . . are you ready? . . . I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by not giving him the whole job. Yep, that’s right. Instead of paying attention to our bottom line and our production needs, I was paying attention to what I imagined our potential supplier’s feelings would be if I “gave” him half a loaf instead of the whole.
My inner entrepreneur began shouting at me. Debra! This is not about feelings! Or “giving” anyone anything. You are assigning a job. This is about budgets and production. Do what’s best for you and the business. What was best for me and the business was to go with our original firm for the cards and the new one for the box. Box man welcomed the contract for manufacturing the box and created a fabulous product for us. Card man came through once again as well. We were on our way.
What a relief to liberate myself from those misguided preoccupations. Concern about others’ feelings wasn’t the point. The point was success and paving its way. Creating a terrific product within our budget was one crucial paving stone.
There is a time for being aware of feelings and there is a time for setting that gift of ours aside. There is no better feeling than knowing the difference and acting on it.
Debra Darvick is a journalist, advice columnist and, with her husband of 36 years, the creator of Picture a Conversation, a set of conversation prompts designed to get us all to stop texting (so much) and start talking (a lot more.) She is delighted to be part of A Beautiful Me and wholeheartedly supports its mission to build self-confidence and self-reliance in girls and young women as they move forward through life.