I was working with a client the other day, I ran into a friend of mine, she saw us in the restaurant window. She came in, sat down and asked us if she could join us for lunch, to which my client shook his head “no”. It was his time with me and that’s fair, I am working and hanging out with him, socializing with friends just wasn’t going to happen. I asked her if we could make plans another day? She said “yes” and sat down for a while to talk to us anyway. She left soon thereafter and said she would call me later.
She did call me later and we met up for a drink. We had a good time talking and laughing as we always do, and then she went quiet. She looked me dead in the eye and asked,
“That day I saw you with your client and you said I couldn’t stay for lunch, why didn’t you want me to stay?”
I was indeed surprised; I sometimes don’t realize that someone may have taken something I have said this seriously. She went on…
“I mean, he doesn’t talk, how do you know he really didn’t want me there? Was it that you didn’t want me there?”
I listened carefully but felt this wad of ‘get over yourself’ building up in me. I calmed myself down and continued listening; I could tell she really thought this through before saying it to me. And if you know me, you know I am quick to anger, especially about something like this.
“Am I missing something, did I do something wrong? Are you embarrassed of your client?” I quickly stopped her there, because I could then feel the anger building up in me again, I could also see the tears in her eyes (not crying, but overwhelming emotionally).
I thought I would cover everything she asked me in the order asked, and some extras.
“It’s not that I didn’t want you to stay for lunch, but he and I had already made a deal that this was our outing and he said ‘no’ when you asked if you could join us. You are correct he doesn’t talk, but he did shake his head, and that is how he says ‘no.’ He doesn’t know you and we would spend the whole time introducing him to you and vice-versa. I did want you there, but you and I can hang out anytime and I don’t see him often, it is up to him if the plan changes. I do want to hang out, but we couldn’t really do it the way we do if he was there. I am not, let me repeat, WANS’T, NOT and NEVER will be embarrassed by a client! If I didn’t want to hang out or you had done something wrong, trust me I would tell you. We also wouldn’t have made plans to get together tonight.” She could tell I was mad, and said, “Okay, I think I understand.” She then asked if I was embarrassed by my brother. I told her “never for a minute.” We then started talking about how my life was shaped by him and why I am who I am.
My brother had this way of being. Not like, here I am, silent; I secretly want you to see me. Soulfull being, present, quiet and loving in a no-nonsense kind of way. I was always proud to be beside him, thought about him when he wasn’t there and sometimes even boastful about the best brother ever. If you weren’t his friend, then you weren’t mine either. Ask all those who got booted off the list. That is maybe why I am so comfortable saying to a friend in the presence of a client, can we make plans another time?
I will be careful of the way I say it next time and make it apparent that it is not about them, it is about, a plan that has already been made and us changing plans is the not the choice of anyone else, but the client I am with. I will also find a way to show people I know, what they mean to me and how much they have without even having to try. Part of me was kind of annoyed at how shallow she was and that it had to be about her. I guess we can all be like that sometimes.