Clearing the Air and Festivus

This is the 68th in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.


There’s nothing more awkward than a misunderstanding left unresolved.
And nothing more unnecessary.
It leads to strain, tension, invective, an atmosphere that can lead to open hostility.
Why risk losing a friend, a colleague, a customer?
If you have a misunderstanding that is a tempest in a teapot, don’t let it blow into a hurricane.
Take the initiative.
Pick up the phone.
Pick up a pen.
Or pick yourself up.
March in right now and clear the air.


While sound advice, it’s not always easy to have these types of difficult conversations.

I’m a big believer in the power of simple yet sincere apologies, but clearing up a misunderstanding may require more than just saying you’re sorry.

It may require you to tell someone that you did not understand why they acted in a certain way, and then taking the time to find out why.

Or it may require you to let someone know why you acted in a certain way.

Such conversations require honesty, taking the time to listen, and being open to other points of view.

Sometimes those traits are hard to put into practice, but they are not impossible. The best motivation for having such a conversation and acting this way may simply be a desire to maintain/resurrect the relationship.

And speaking of clearing the air, perhaps Frank Costanza was on to something with his Festivus celebration and the airing of grievances.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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