“Which one looks better, this green one or the blue one?” a friend of mine asked, modeling dresses before a big date.
“For the restaurant and the occasion, I’d wear the green one.”
Chatting on the phone with me the next evening as she was getting ready, she confirmed, “Yes, I’m going to wear the green dress.”
“If you wear the green one, make sure you cut the string that’s hanging off of the kick-pleat.”
“I was wondering why you didn’t say anything about that yesterday. I thought for once you didn’t notice.”
I noticed. I won’t say I always notice, but almost. I notice missing buttons, scuffs on shoes, worn down soles, crooked ties, crooked hems, and rogue lint.
Noticing isn’t something I can turn off at work. I notice when people are late for meetings, mismatched fonts in a final document, and if people fail to follow-up as they committed. (For regular readers who have noticed grammatical missteps, forgive me for that. Noticing grammatical mistakes in my own writing is not my forte.)
I enjoy noticing. It makes me feel as if I am actively participating in the world. Though sometimes, my proclivity to notice translates into frustration that other people don’t notice when I think they should. In the moment of observing what I interpret as a failure of a colleague to be on point, I feel little empathy. Sometimes, I catch myself and issue my own warning, “it could have been you.” But I often dismiss the warning and focus more on my frustration with the incident than on the shortcomings of my own behavior.
A study of 259 adults randomly assigned to a control or experimental group conducted by Stanford researchers found that the practice of forgiveness resulted in less anger and stress and increased optimism. No matter how frustrated you may become with your colleagues’ shortcomings, forgiveness is something that would be worth practicing – if not for your colleagues, then for yourself.
Everyone is human, a state from which, even with exceptional attention to detail, I am not exempt.