So there you are, in your best suit, giving a Skype video presentation in your best professional manner – and thankful that the people on the other end can’t tell you are doing it all from a home office. After all, you have the impressive bookshelf behind you, and the map on the wall. It is all carefully designed to look like you are part of a substantial, well-oiled operation.
Suddenly, your small daughter wanders in, and starts dancing around by your chair, just having fun. You give a mortified smile to those on video, apologize, and try to move her out of the shot –just as your baby wheels himself in via his baby walker. And as that “this cannot be happening” thought flashes through your brain, your frantic spouse comes skidding and slipping into the room, grabs the kids, and hustles them out the door – reaching in one final time around the baby walker to firmly close the door.
You are left mentally flailing around, trying to somehow pick up the pieces and move forward with the sober professional presentation that just got blown to bits.
Oh, I have SO much sympathy for Professor Robert Kelly, whose recent live interview on BBC has gone viral for exactly that reason. Like the other tens of millions of people who have seen the clip, I could not stop laughing precisely because I can picture exactly how the poor guy felt. Every person who has ever worked from home in the modern world has always known, deep down inside, that such a moment was stalking them – and would catch up with them eventually.
A few years ago, I was deep into an explanation of marriage statistics with Joy Eggerichs on her popular video podcast when my friendly cat – who had somehow managed to get the door wide open without me realizing it – jumped up on my desk and sauntered in front of the webcam (see minutes 19 and 20). Just a couple of weeks ago, I was doing a live video interview about my newest book, The Kindness Challenge, when my other cat, irritated by the now wedged-closed door (I learned my lesson!) decided to hook his little paws under the door and try to rattle it hard enough to open it.
Shaunti (in her best professional voice): “So we identified seven different ways we are unkind and negative without ever realizing it –“
Door behind Shaunti: Rattle rattle rattle
Shaunti: “—Um, so, every one of us has a negativity pattern, and we need to identify it –“
Door behind Shaunti: Rattle! Rattle! Bang! Bang!
Shaunti: “—Um, sorry about that. So. Yes. So we have an online assessment you can take at jointhekindnesschallenge.com to help you identify –“Door behind Shaunti: BANG!! BANG!!! BANG!!!
Interview host (trying not to laugh): “Maybe you should just let the cat in.”
Some of the things that happen when you work from home are mortifying – but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I know not everyone can work from home, and it doesn’t make sense for many people. But working from home allows me to spend much more time with my kids. It allows me to pick up my son from school and take him to get frozen yogurt if he’s had a hard day. It allows me to be home with my daughter when she is sick without having to get someone to cover my shift at an office. It allows me and my husband to sometimes go out for lunch just because.
I wouldn’t change it – but it sure comes with its own challenges in a day when professional credibility is hard-won and easy to lose!
Thankfully, the professionals on the other end of the video have all been there, in exactly the same way.
I’m sure that you have been there, too. And I’d love to hear your stories. When have you been hilariously interrupted as you’ve tried to maintain a professional demeanor? Share them with us – I’m doing a little informal research on how people who work to balance work and life in this way handle the balancing act when it all goes hilariously wrong.
Want to know how to be kind, when you really don’t want to be? My research uncovered three daily actions that will transform your relationships – and you. Check out The Kindness Challenge, now available!
Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average, clueless people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her newest book, The Kindness Challenge demonstrates that kindness is the answer to pretty much every life problem, and is sparking a much-needed movement of kindness across the country. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.