On being ... a differnet coping mechanism

By Ingrid Sapona

I had a busy morning with a few other things that needed my attention before I could get to today’s column, but I wasn’t panicked because I had started one called On being … ignored. I don’t usually write columns in advance, but as I was getting ready to write the last column there were two things weighing equally on my mind: the nature of being fooled and the issue of being ignored.

I ended up using the April Fool idea last time for two reasons -- one that’s obvious, and one that may surprise you. The obvious reason was that it wasn’t too far beyond the first of April, so the title was still “timely”. The other reason was because the whole issue of being ignored had been particularly irritating to me and I was worried I might end up just sounding just whiney, or I might write something I’d later be embarrassed about.

So, I put On being … ignored aside and figured I could always use it for a future column. I knew I had gotten pretty far on it before I shelved it and, knowing how inflamed I was by the topic a couple weeks ago, I thought picking up where I left off would be a cinch. Last night I printed off a copy of it for reading on the subway on my way home from a morning meeting.

My meeting this morning was in a lovely part of town and it was a beautiful spring day. The flowering trees are glorious right now and, as I was walking back to the subway, at one point I was surprised that I noticed the shade offered by a huge maple tree. I don’t remember the last time shade of a tree caught my attention like that in spring. (Shade is the kind of thing I usually only “notice” when I’m looking for it, for example, if it’s really hot and I’m at a street festival and I’m desperate to cool off a bit.)

Anyway, on the subway ride home I turned to On being … ignored. The genesis for the column was a business networking push I’ve been on, in earnest, for the past four weeks or so. Though I have a modest “normal” networking routine that involves keeping in touch with past clients and reaching out to businesses I consider viable potential clients, things are so slow work-wise that I decided I had to get serious about beating the bushes.

Of the 100+ calls and e-mails I sent (all personalized, of course) as part of this push, the response rate has been abysmal. I can count on one hand the number of people who’ve responded to my outreach efforts. (I suppose I should be thankful that I can also count on only one hand the number of snarky responses I’ve received, including one e-mail that read simply: “Do I know you?” and one receptionist who, after I asked to be connected to Ms. X (a past client, in fact), asked me to repeat my name and then said: “I’ve never heard of you and I’ve been here 19 years” and then refused to put me through.)

As you might imagine, the whole process left me feeling rejected (yes, being ignored is tantamount to being rejected), angry, and worried about the economic viability of remaining in business as a consultant. No wonder I felt a need to write a column about it! But, as I was reading On being … ignored this afternoon, I realized that though I’m still very much “at it” (the networking), at least for the time being I’ve moved beyond the turmoil that made me want to write about it.

Indeed, when I sat down today and found I couldn’t finish the column I had started just two weeks ago, I realized that writing about something that’s bothering me isn’t the only -- or even necessarily the best -- way of dealing with life’s ups and downs. Sometimes just letting a bit of time pass and allowing yourself to noticing other things -- like spring blossoms and the shade from by new leaves on a tree -- works just as well. Of course, if I use this technique all the time, what would I write about?

© 2010 Ingrid Sapona


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