Women at Work: Read the whole message before killing the messenger

May 13, 2019

Have you ever volunteered to take 46 children younger than 12, put them all on a stage and have the end result be a brilliantly performed play? I will admit, I never have done so, nor will I ever.

In February a notice came home in our 9-year-old’s communication folder that there would be auditions for “Alice in Wonderland” and all were welcome. Being it was the end of basketball season and winter was forecast to last a couple more months, Sam decided to try out. I thought, “What a perfect way to expend some extra energy at the end of each day rather than coming home and doing next-to-nothing due to the cold.”

Shortly after auditions, Sam excitedly burst through the door and exclaimed, “I got a part, I got a part!” He spent most days after school March through April with this group of 45 other kids rehearsing, singing, dancing and looking forward to the two shows to be performed the first weekend in May.

It was a highly anticipated show, but who would have thought two shows would sell out? When a third show was added, the parents who procrastinated in getting tickets were incredibly relieved.

After learning the first two shows had sold out, many folks were left without tickets. I stumbled upon a thread on social media, which began with one complaint from a procrastinating parent and snowballed into negative comment after negative comment. First were complaints about not getting tickets, then came the complaints that communication was poor, and then there were random complaints about minute issues that had arisen over the past two months.

After each comment, I could feel myself getting a little more defensive, and I wanted to jump in on the thread. Over and over I would type a comment, then backspace and delete it. Contrary to what most were chiming in on, I wanted to say the exact opposite and point out the obvious.

First and foremost, had any of these complainers scrolled beyond the header of the event on social media, they would have seen the details in regard to purchasing tickets. Again, I procrastinated and never in my wildest dreams did I think two shows would sell out. Nevertheless, I knew when and where tickets could be bought.

The importance of reading a letter, an email, or a social media post top to bottom seems to have flown out the window. Do we all feel in a quick glimpse that the pertinent information is stored in our brains? Does anyone bother to read something more than once to make sure important information wasn’t missed? If you don’t, then maybe it would be a good place to start before complaining about a situation that could have been avoided.

Secondly, communication methods and frequency was grumbled about. Now, I know there are different preferences when it comes to how people like to hear about announcements and how often. Once again, this boiled down to reading. I will admit my child isn’t perfect when it comes to bringing home everything from school, but we received printed fliers, emails, and text messages, so I felt the information was in front of us in several forms. Not too much and not too little.

And lastly, the director of the play volunteered her time and energy to herd 46 little kids on to a stage and brought out the best of each of them. Those kids had fun, and they were all proud of themselves and each other. You can imagine the invaluable skills they gained from being in this play.

The bottom line is this: If you think you could do better and if you want to put in the time and energy, why don’t you volunteer before complaining about someone else who did just that?