The eyes have it!
When my kids were little, the ultimate threat was to send them to bed if they’d misbehaved.
When they got a little older (and a little more bolshy) they would occasionally threaten me with being sent to bed if I did something they didn’t like. This, of course, would make me laugh as the idea of having an afternoon nap was a dream come true for an adult, not the punishment it was for them.
I was thinking about this on Sunday, when I ended up spending the day in hospital. A sinus infection had made parts of my face swell up, to the point where I couldn’t see out of my right eye at all and I looked like I’d been fighting Mike Tyson (and won). You are probably reading this with horror and concern. I can see/hear the messages of support and concern. That’s very sweet of you, but completely unnecessary. Much like the “bed” threat to my children, what might sound horrible to you, was actually a lovely day off.
Let’s get it into perspective.
Firstly, whilst it was initially very painful and uncomfortable, one of the first things the hospital did was give me medication which worked very fast. So I was quite comfortable, and quite certain that there was nothing seriously wrong with me and that once they’d worked out what the problem was and given me the right medication, I’d be on the mend.
Secondly, I was well prepared – I had my phone (with back up battery) loaded with several books, I had a hot drink and the two hospitals I visited were clean and comfortable with wonderful staff who took good care of me. Anyone who complains about the NHS should perhaps spend a Sunday afternoon at Moorfields Eye Hospital for a different perspective.
Finally, I had loads and loads of work to do. But of course I had a perfectly good reason for not doing it, so I could sit and read my book (through one eye) drink my tea and wait my turn, knowing that I couldn’t feel guilty because there was no way I could have done any of my work from where I was. If I’d chosen to take the day off to do something else, I’d have spent the whole time feeling that I should really have been at home working.
My only disappointment was that I wasn’t given an eye patch to wear. I’d have made a good pirate.
Of course, anyone who reads my blogs regularly will know that there is usually a legal message in my story. If so, you’ll have been reading this, wondering how I’m going to relate all of this back to the law. Is it going to be about family law, and the benefits of being firm with the children (good point, but no). Is it going to be about personal injury or medical negligence and what’s involved in suing the NHS (no, as it’s one of the few areas of law we don’t cover, but I know people that do if you ever need an introduction). Actually, it’s about how many things are just a question of perspective, which can apply to many of the transactions we get involved in. Even the non contentious ones like buying and selling property, where everyone wants to achieve the same aim, you could still be coming at it from a different point of view. Your idea of what is a perfectly reasonable request for more time to consider their latest draft agreement, may be seen by the other side as an unreasonable delaying tactic to try and come up with an excuse to reduce the price or increase the warranties.
Many years ago I was involved in a mediation meeting relating to a very serious car accident where someone had died. Despite the drivers’ solicitors making very reasonable offers of settlement, the deceased’s husband had refused to accept, until we all ended up sitting round a table, weeks from a very expensive trial. We couldn’t make a breakthrough, and eventually the mediator had the idea of letting the two men talk directly. The driver and the widower sat opposite each other and were encouraged to express their views on settlement. It then came out that the woman’s husband felt that he was being bought off, and but that no one was willing to take responsibility for what had happened. No one had said sorry for the loss of his wife and the mother of his children, which no amount of cash could make up for. The driver (a big burly haulage contractor) sat there with his mouth open for a few minutes, trying to compose himself, before explaining that he had been told by his insurers that he couldn’t apologise, because that would be an admission of liability and if he had ignored their advice, they could have withdrawn cover and no one would have got any money. Two people with a common aim, but approaching something from very different angles, with very different but very valid perspectives.
If you are involved in business transactions, no matter how reasonable you think you are being, it may help if you try to put yourself in the shoes of the other side, and at least be open to the idea that each side may have a very different view on the same point. Instead of assuming that they are being difficult for the sake of being difficult (which, of course, may be the case) it is possible that they simple see it differently from you, and if you can each see the other side’s point, you are much more likely to get the deal across the line.
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Helping you see eye to eye.