It’s that delightful time of year when our communicative planet, Mercury turns its back like my 8 year-old daughter in a huff and storms out of our orbit. Mercury is the astrological planet ruling communication and while it seems like it’s spiraling out of our orbit, it’s actually our planet Earth leaving it in its cosmic dust. Without going Carl Sagan on you, it’s the Earth basically using the old line, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
Regardless, it puts communication into a tailspin and It may look something like this:
You’re driving to work, on the phone with your husband, reminding him to do that ‘thing’ he was supposed to do last week. Just as you’re stressing the sense of urgency, the call drops and leaves your smartphone ‘Searching…’
You arrive early for the 9am meeting with your boss only to find that is was rescheduled for 2pm and you didn’t get the memo.
You compose an email for your team about this month’s budget and the computer opens up and devours everything into a dark, black hole.
Your IT department isn’t answering calls.
You feel your anxiety rise. Your sudden irritability and violence towards inanimate objects seems justified, at least to you.
Your husband calls and says he won’t have time to do that ‘thing’ until Friday. Just as you begin to vent your frustration, the call drops.
As you contemplate throwing yourself out the window, your assistant walks in and cheerfully reminds you “it’s Mercury Retrograde” and you look at her with the WTF expression, as if she had two hands growing out of her head.
So now that you know you’re not going crazy, here are a few Do’s & Don’ts to preserve your sanity and efficiency during the next three weeks.
Do follow-up: If you feel it’s been a while to hear a response from that person you sent an email or left a voicemail for, send a friendly follow-up. It’s possible for emails & voicemails to disappear from our time-space continuum so simply following up by saying, “I know you’re probably very busy, and just wanted to reach out again about….”
Do double check in-boxes & spam folders: If you’re waiting for response, be sure to check all folders to be sure that letter from the Oval Office hasn’t gotten filed along with those Nigerian land deals.
Don’t be quick to judge: Wiring in both electronics and our brains go wonky during this time, so if communication from someone feels off, ask them again what they meant, ex: “I’m sorry, could you repeat that so I fully understand what you’re asking?” Better to always be more responsive than reactive.
DON’T HAVE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS: I can’t stress this enough. This is not the time to have that “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this” talk with your mate, friend and especially your mother. Wait, bite your tongue. I know it goes against everything I normally say, but trust me, it will not go well. File it away and bring it up in 3 weeks.
Don’t buy new electronics: Even if your iPhone suddenly got thrown into the Bay…hmmm wonder how that happened… now is a bad time to buy these items, so hold off when you have more clarity and sanity.
Do be patient: Ambrose Bierce once wrote, “Patience: a minor form of despair disguised as a virtue.” If you can’t be patient at least try and practice it. Again, there is so much that will be wonky this month…from emails, voicemails, meetings, conversations, etc, so practice patience and realize these are all a product of Mercury Retrograde and will improve soon.
Do enjoy the void: In our rapid-fire culture, we need this downtime. If your internet is on the fritz, go back to that report you need to write, or take a 15min walk, personally meet with that coworker rather than a chain of confusing emails, or simply gaze out the window and breathe….
Perhaps this all sounds a bit woo-woo, but practicing these simple tips can help us when we feel like we’re trying to cram a square peg into a round hole.