Recently, I watched the FX series “Feud” about the famous volatile relationship between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis while they were filming “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” I’ve always been fascinated by the iconic Hollywood actresses of yesteryear and was glued to the screen. As eight episodes unfold, we begin to understand the root of the tormented relationship caused by outside forces and driven by greed and ego sell movies.
During the final scene of the last episode, the two actresses are left alone in a room, face-to-face to tell the truth. In a vulnerable moment, they both share that they wish they could have treated each other differently. Similarly, in the last scene of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” when a deep hidden truth is revealed that doused the flame of the tumultuous relationship, Bette Davis’ character Baby Jane turns to Joan Crawford’s Blanche and says, “You mean all this time we could have been friends?”
How much time and energy is wasted in our personal and workplace lives when we let issues sit without communication? We often assume what another is thinking and create false narratives in our minds. This happens in business equally as it does in personal relationships. When questions come up with clients, I always pick up the phone and follow up with an email asking a direct question for clarification. When there is a missing piece of a business transaction, the puzzle is solved by the other party involved. That sounds easy enough but why is it so hard for people to ask a direct question? Do we like being in the dark or do we like staying in the conflict when solving the issue is only a direct question away? Sounds like an easy formula to follow for a resolution, but repeatedly in life we shy away from direct confrontation, even when that confrontation can deliver positive outcomes for everyone.
Assumptions destroy relationships, waste precious time and cost money, yet we continue to assume the days away. It’s not worth letting life pass us by, and in business it will certainly make for smoother interactions if we ask the direct questions to get underneath the angst. And the best part is that we can ask the questions with compassion rather then defensiveness. So, try it this week. If there is something that requires further clarification, even if you are 80% sure of the answer, ask the question. You may find the answer to be different and the time you took to ask will save you hours of time and loads of money.
You mean after all this time we could have had…peace of mind by asking a question?
Try it, your peace of mind is priceless!