Inhale, Exhale. Repeat.

It’s been a rough week.

Annual Enrollment materials from two of the carriers arrived with errors again after already being sent back twice! An employee relations issue that we settled before the holidays reared its head again. Another employee tried to play games and double talk to avoid providing documentation relating to his FMLA request. I had to re-order a reprint on a bunch of forms after brand standards made logo changes for the fourth time in 3 months. And I had to terminate an employee following a physical altercation — and that employee called me a “crack monkey” (whatever THAT is?!?) and some other 4-letter words before threatening legal action and hanging up on me.


Not 5 minutes after the “crack monkey” incident, my phone rang again. It was one of Operations Managers with a question about an employee’s benefits. An employee was resigning without notice due to a personal issue and wanted to know if we could suspend benefits premium deductions for the final paycheck. Based on the benefits class, we had the right to deduct the premiums because coverage would run through the end of the month. The Ops Manager knew that. So did the employee.

Not to mention, this particuplar employee was involved in an issue about a month prior that I had to help resolve. And that employee was not kind or cooperative. At all. Now this person wanted a favor?!? This person who was rude and gave me ‘tude wanted me to bend the rules to help him out?!? After the day I’d had?!? After just being called a ‘crack monkey’ a few minutes ago?!?

Pssssh! Whatev, dude! Bite me! Too bad, so sad!

That’s what I was thinking.

But that’s not what I told the Operations Manager and the employee.

Instead, I took a deep breath and I said, “I am not in the best frame of mind to answer this right now. Let me look into the options and call you back in the morning with an answer.” The manager balked a little and tried to push me for an answer right then, but I didn’t budge. I told him that I would follow up in the morning.

And in the morning, I called back and we worked out a solution. The employee was really grateful and thanked me for helping him after he’d been such an ass  to me before. His words, not mine — but true, nonetheless.

Sometimes, as busy managers juggling multiple issues and competing priorities, it is hard to slow down. We go from one issue to the next problem to a previous conflict to another challenge and around and around and back again. Our minds are full of facts and our bodies are full of adrenaline and we just want to get it all done so the day can end … and just when we think it’s over — BAM — here comes something else!

Inhale, exhale. Repeat.

If you can’t evaluate the issue as it’s own unique thing in that moment, STOP! Take a break and get your mind right.  There’s no weakness in that. However, it’s weak and wack to make decisions about one thing based on residual emotions from something else.

Each issue deserves it’s own moment to be the center of attention. Each employee deserves to have their concerns addressed through the lense of their circumstances and not the fog of all the other stuff you’re dealing with. Get clear so you can be clear, concise and consistent in your dealings.

And if you have a spare moment, google “crack monkey” and let me know if you find out what it means …

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  1. sound advice. simple, yet powerful. and i cant get over the crack monkey comment. thats pure gold right there. oh, we could write a book…

    • Buzz Rooney

      January 12, 2012 at 6:21 PM

      Yes, we could! Our memoirs would be best-sellers!

      According to UrbanDictionary, crack monkey means just what it says. A monkey on crack/cocaine. I guess my decision was crazy to him … But I am not the one who attacked someone at work. So if thats normal, I will happily be a crack monkey! That little guy is kinda cute, actually …

      Thanks for reading and sharing

  2. Love the monkey picture!And the new phrase “crack monkey”. Beats the usual MF’s and beeatches.
    Simple truths told simply, with humor. Loved the article!

    • Buzz Rooney

      January 13, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      Thanks! I actually wasnt going to share the story because I try to steer away from too many specific stories about work. But when I googled crack monkey and saw the pic, I had to do it!! It is definitely a new phrase for the vocab.

      Its not always easy to separate issues and emotions. Ive failed at it as much as Ive succeeded. This incident was a great reminder to me. And I am glad there were some wisdom nuggets in it for others.

  3. I LOVE this. It is sooo helpful. As professionals we are often called upon to make decisions devoid of our emotions and act in the best interest of our organizations regardless of how we feel about it personally. Those three words and your message go a long way toward helping us accomplish that goal.

    • Buzz Rooney

      January 15, 2012 at 7:06 PM

      Thanks, Laura! I am glad this was helpful to you.

      The longer I work, the more I realize it isn’t possible to make decisions that are completely devoid of emotion. I don’t even think it is healthy. I think the better solution is to identify your emotions, decide if they are appropriate, accept the answer and move forward accordingly. That’s self-awareness — and it is becoming more and more critical in our workplaces.

      Sometimes, we can do that in an instant. Sometimes, we need to take a moment to check ourselves and our emotions before making and moving on a decision. In this case, I knew I had to take a moment to decide what was best. I am glad I was smart enough to take the moment and I am even more glad the wisdom of the moment is helpful to other … even if I had to be called a “crack monkey” to get there.

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