My friend Claire called, hopping mad. Seems her 12-year-old son’s guitar teacher had come to the house when Claire was not home for the weekly lesson. When the teacher learned Jake had not practiced, she collected her pay from Claire’s husband and left.
Claire was furious. . . both because the teacher left, and because the teacher got paid.
“She’s a good teacher . . . and a social friend,” Claire said. “But I feel like telling her not to come back. Do you have any other ideas?”
“Have you asked her what she was thinking when she left?” I added, “Maybe you should tell her what you wish she had done.”
The next week, when I saw Claire she thanked me. She said, “I asked her why she left, and she said she thought it was a waste of time since Jake had not practiced. So I said, ‘Well, I’m sorry my son didn’t practice, but I pay you for a half hour and I expected you to spend a half hour on a lesson. Next time this happens, could you please just repeat last week’s lesson?’”
She agreed and apologized. And next time I saw her, she apologized again. “I don’t know what I was thinking. Of course I should have repeated the lesson.”
So instead of a lose-lose-lose (Claire’s son loses a good teacher, the teacher loses a client, and Claire loses a friend), this simple – but tough – conversation created a win-win-win.
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