Seeing myself in the mirror of an email

I had another gestalt experience at the end of last week.

One of my duties at work is to bill the University for grant-related expenses. The invoice forms I use are on the web. I pull up the web form, fill in the boxes, and click "Print & Save" at the bottom. I throw away the first print job, which is a raw download complete with nasty boxes around the entry fields and extraneous web stuff at the top and bottom of the pages. After the file saves, I can print a nice professional invoice from Word. It's an easy process, although I have to remember to open Internet Exploder, because the web forms don't work quite right in Firefox.

Recently I got an email saying that the web forms had changed, and to be sure and use the new ones. Not a problem, I use a fresh form every time rather than modifying a saved form. Then I got an email saying that they were getting lots of invoices submitted on old forms, and please use the new ones, old forms would be rejected. Again, not a problem, I'm already using the new forms.

Then I got an email from B, with a testy edge - B does testy VERY well - saying:
You are still using the old form to generate your invoices.
I threw them out.
Do them over.

So I pull out my invoices, and pull up the web page, and notice that my invoices DO look different from the web page. The revision? They changed four words in the invoice title. Gosh, I could swear I did it from the web, but those words are different on my copies!

So I fill out the forms again, click "Print & Save", throw away the first print job, open the saved file, and -
Those words at the top changed back to the old form.



I messed around with it for a while, and finally redid the invoices yet again, this time printing out the raw screen dump, and giving it to my boss to sign. It's not pretty, but the invoice does not reword itself when I don't download it as a Word file.

By this time, I was steaming, because I spent a couple of hours on something that shouldn't be my problem. I wrote a detailed email to B telling her exactly what happened, and that new invoices are on their way.

Then, a day later, I had a sudden flash of insight:
I would have responded to those incorrect invoices the same way B did.

I would not have said, "Gee, the over 50 people who fill out these forms are responsible, reliable people. WHY are they still sending me the old forms? Especially Anita - she is usually right on the ball."

I would have said "It's wrong, I had to throw it out, please do it over."

That one word WHY - it's a key word. To say it, to use it, I have to detach for a moment, and take a deep breath. In fact, it has to be said on the exhale, when I can clear my mind and think, rather than react.

May I use this insight well.

Oh, and the webbies at the University are working on the problem. Other people had the same thing happen to them. I am not crazy.

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