Recently, my wife and I went out to dinner. We planned to go to a movie afterward but couldn’t decide what to see. Easy solution—we decided to go home and watch one of our favorite shows on Netflix. We arrived home, got comfortable, turned on the TV and… nothing. The TV went on, but there was no cable or Internet signal. There was an outage. Obviously, the cable company didn’t do this on purpose. It was out of their control. Sometimes things happen. It was just bad timing.
A couple of weeks later, I attended a conference at a hotel in Orlando. We enjoyed the speakers in the morning session, and after about two hours, it was time for a break. More than 600 of us got up to stretch our legs and, as most might do after a morning session preceded with coffee, head to the restroom.
I immediately noticed a problem. The restroom outside of our meeting room was “closed for cleaning.” The hotel staff was cleaning the restroom at 10 in the morning, right in the middle of our break. Once again, it was just bad timing.
Or was it?
Just like the cable company, the hotel staff didn’t do this on purpose. The difference was that this was in their control. They could have cleaned the bathrooms at a different time, perhaps before the meeting even started—or maybe in the middle of the night when there was no one around.
On that day, I was with my friend Dennis Snow
, a fellow customer service expert who spent 20 years working at Disney. I could read his mind. He was thinking the same thing I was. He said, “They should have a better sense of when to do this.”
He went on to say that it drives him crazy when he arrives at a hotel in the middle of the afternoon to check-in and the cleaning team is vacuuming the carpets in the lobby. There’s nothing quiet about those industrial-strength vacuum cleaners. One would think the hotel staff would have the sense to find a less busy time to do their noisy maintenance or cleaning.
Here’s my point. It’s bad timing if it’s an unexpected accident that causes an inconvenience. It’s not bad timing when someone has control over a situation. That’s a bad decision. The hotel should have been smarter about when to clean the restrooms. How could they not realize there was a meeting with 600 people who would need to use the facilities?
Bad timing isn’t really bad timing if you have control of the situation. Think of the things you and others around you in your organization have control over that might cause a problem or inconvenience for someone else. You may not have power over everything, but you do have the power to make good decisions. Know the difference between bad timing and bad decisions
Related: Is Your Time More Important Than the People You Meet With?