Heavy traffic, terrorists and last minuteitis. A chance for “Insight”.

For the last 20 years I have been an enthusiastic season ticket holder at Old Trafford the home of Manchester United (for any ‘anyone but United’ people I apologise in advance). Though not glory hunters, or at least that’s what I claim, we enjoyed the entertainment the class of 92 served up week in week out.

44157650 - heavy traffic on a london a road

Times have changed and the edge of my seat has become a much more familiar place than it used to be. Not only the football has changed though the traffic is much heavier than it used to be. Terrorist activity over the last few years has resulted in an increased need for security. Often there are queues to get into the ground and while I would claim that we have rarely missed the start of the match my wife would claim differently.

I was convinced I was right. A recent evening kick off was to prove me embarrassingly wrong.  The traffic approaching the ground was to my mind ‘much worse’ than it usual and we were late to meet a friend for a bite to eat before the match.

My wife maintained that we should have set off earlier and not tried to cram so much into the day. I defended myself and said that the traffic was unusual and that my time management was fine protesting that I was rarely this late for a meeting and my last minuteitis was a myth. My wife contended that I had developed a skill of turning pleasure into pressure.

We agreed to disagree. in my own mind there are significant demands on my time and my time management is just fine. The rest of the journey amid heavy traffic was endured in a less than companionable silence.

When we eventually arrived, nearly an hour late for our pre-match dinner, our friend was fine as expected and had realised the traffic was bad. We had after all called him to say our journey was difficult. We rushed our food, which compromised the pleasure of seeing a friend and breathlessly took our seats just after the match started.

A few days later we received an email from Manchester United and the first paragraph read as follows:

“Our records show that you have got into the stadium at, or after, kick off for most Premier league matches so far this season. Therefore, it would be great if you could arrive earlier, no later than one hour prior to kick-off.”

It became apparent that instead of listening to the feedback I was getting I had fallen into the mindset of defending myself and was more concerned with proving myself right than properly evaluating the feedback or assessing the situation. The email from Manchester United had been received after the moment had passed (the amygdala calmed) and was more comfortably reflected on.

Ironically over the last few days I have been re reading Tasha Eurich’s ‘s excellent book “Insight”. Trouble is we so often read what we think are excellent books but find it difficult to translate what we have learned into our daily activities. Here was an excellent opportunity to try my hand at approaching feedback in a different way.

In this instance I used Eurich’s 3R model to stay in control of how we  Receive, Reflect on and Respond  to feedback. At its most simple instead of defending myself against what they viewed as my wife’s nagging I felt I should receive feedback from her with a simple “Thank You’.  And with sincerity not through the gritted teeth of defending myself.

Secondly I reflected on the feedback and once I had removed the veil of defensiveness I realised that my constant and possibly thoughtless habit of leaving things to the last minute was unnecessarily putting pressure on others and may indeed be compromising the pleasure of what after all was a leisure activity.  Put simply I had got it wrong but initially refused to accept this.

The third part of the model is to respond to the feedback. Instead of leaving home or work at the last minute I need to build additional time into my schedule to allow all concerned, including myself, to enjoy a leisure activity to it for not make it a pressured situation.

Since then we have gone to a few matches and we have been to a few matches and I have purposely given more time for the journey and avoided arranging meetings beforehand which may well overrun. Swallowing pride and listening to feedback in a receptive rather than defensive manner has increased pleasure and reduced tension at no extra cost. Perhaps I should listen more often.




Who am I? A chap living in Nottingham, United Kingdom who perhaps has a much higher level of enthusiasm than ability leading to an interest in many things but mastery of none. A father of three no longer dependent children, or so they tell me, and husband to a one-time nurse who now works with me (or rather I work for). I attempt to take photographs and occasionally fluke half decent shots though thank goodness I no longer have to buy film. I endeavour to practice karate but with advancing years spend more time instructing them participating but actively participate in the more gentle tai chi. Professionally I have spent the last twenty years in recruitment – not always the most highly regarded ‘industry’. For my part I take great pleasure in helping companies to find the right people and a lot of satisfaction out of seeing them thrive and succeed. More recently I have spent a lot of time helping people who have, or fear they may, lose their jobs. For many putting a CV together is so difficult and then finding opportuniteis can be a major challenge. Interviews can be a different problem altogether but with a little help most people can perform a lot better than they otherwise would.

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