We’ve all been there before. Somebody does or says something that really pisses you off. Maybe they let you down, threw you under the bus, screwed you on a deal, or are just being an asshole. Your first reaction is “fuck that guy(or girl)!” It’s a natural response when you feel like someone has wronged you. Sometimes it’s even an appropriate response. Distancing yourself from people or situations that put you in that position is probably a good thing for your well-being, but that advice is some real 2020 hindsight when you’re in the heat of that moment.
I have always tried to keep a level head when it comes to business, but I’ve certainly made rash decisions and said things that I wish I could take back. We all have. I’ve been reading Bargaining With the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight, and it’s helped me to be able to look back at some of those moments in my life with a more analytical perspective. I can’t go back and change what I did or said, but maybe by understanding WHY I felt compelled to make those decisions I can help myself to make better choices in the future.
Admitting When You’re Wrong
When you find yourself regretting the way you handled a situation, the most powerful tool you can use to correct your mistake is humility. It may not fix whatever harm was done, but a sincere apology goes a long way towards making amends. I’m not talking about just “hey man, I’m sorry.” I mean a genuine and sincere apology without reservations. No “…but, you did screw me” attached. Sometimes that apology is something that can take a long time for you to accept, whether you’re the one delivering the apology or the one receiving it. But it sure beats the alternative of carrying around all that dead weight.
Having the character to swallow your pride and go deliver an apology without reservations is a trait that a lot of people just don’t have. Whether they get caught up in some kind of resentment, entitlement, or just plain dumb bullshit, they will not be able to get over themselves. When you fuck up, own it. Walking away is a lot easier when you don’t need to keep looking over your shoulder. You never know when that person might be in a position to hurt you, and in this industry, a lot of times all you have to go on is your reputation. Don’t put that at risk by having someone talking shit about you.
Now we’re getting to the point. What happens when you burn a bridge and never go back to fix the situation? Well, you might have just made an enemy. That person may have screwed you over, but do you think that yelling at them or screwing them back is going to prevent them from fucking with you again in the future? I hope at some point in school all of you were required to read The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s probably the most savage revenge story ever written. You don’t want to be the guy trapped on the other side of that wall. No matter how slight the offense may seem, if you have regrets about it, why not go ahead and bury that hatchet instead of wondering forever if it’s going to come back and get buried in your head.
We all know that there are big egos in the oil industry. Any of you old enough to have watched the original Dallas will remember the long standing family feud between the Ewings and the Barnes. Jock and Digger just couldn’t stop pushing each other, even when the other guy was ready to make amends. They couldn’t let it go. (For those of you too young to have watched the original Dallas, I strongly recommend finding it on a streaming service. It was the way a lot of people were introduced to, and perceived, the oil business in Texas back in the late 70s and early 80s.)
Getting back to the point, and I’ll quote (maybe paraphrase, I don’t remember the exact wording) Chuck Yates, “I’m too old and tired to have enemies. I don’t have the energy for that anymore.” Some of you may feel the same way, and those of you that aren’t feeling old and tired yet…just give it some time. The more time you waste thinking about “getting revenge” the longer it’s going to take you to leave those negative relationships and energy behind. If you’ve got regrets about something you did, own up and do what you can to make it right. Who knows, you might need this guy to have your back some day…