What Has to Happen…?

In which we are reminded that we don’t always hear what we think we’ve heard.

“This has been a good conversation; call me in a couple of weeks and we’ll start the contracting process.”

Smiles exchanged, hands shaken, I stepped out into the humid August “dog days” air.  What a great meeting. Not quite time to count the money, and very positive.

I let three weeks pass, giving an extra week for good measure, not wanting to seem too eager.

I called. No reply.

Two more weeks.  I called. No reply.  I emailed. No reply.

Another two weeks.  Same drill.  Two more weeks. Again, the same.

Finally….. on   N o v e m b e r  1,  I called and he answered the call.

“I nearly didn’t answer your call,” he said. “You’ve been bugging me for the last couple of months.”

“Sorry,” I said, “…and you said, when we last met, ‘Why don’t you give me a call in a couple of weeks and we’ll start the contracting process. So I gave you three weeks and called…. “

“I meant, give me a call when I have my budgets finished…..”

I remember thinking, “Am I really hearing this? You can’t be serious!”

His idea of a couple of weeks was ten and mine (oh, Nick, you’re so literal) was two with one extra for grace period.

I heard “a couple of weeks” as “very soon” because my internal ‘hunter’ was filtering for “movement on which to pounce at the earliest possible moment.” My client heard “a couple of weeks” as “in a few weeks when I get around to finishing the budget” because he didn’t want to hear from me until he knew how much he had to spend.

Note to self, from the “clarifying questions I wish I’d asked at the time” department: “What will need to happen during the next couple of weeks for you to be ready for us to speak again?”

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