Years ago, my writer’s group was asked to host a local conference for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and I agreed to be the liaison for the venue. We held the event at a large hotel that could provide sleeping rooms for our attendees and meeting rooms for the various sessions. According to the hotel’s Event Coordinator, the more sleeping rooms that were booked for the weekend-long conference, the bigger the discount we would get for the meeting rooms. The meeting rooms were expensive and our budget was limited, so I hoped all our out-of-town attendees would stay at the hotel.
Unfortunately, a glitch in the system meant some people who registered for the conference were told there were no sleeping rooms available. That meant instead of the 50% discount on the meeting rooms I’d been hoping for, we’d be lucky to qualify for the 25% discount. Alarmed, I checked through the conference registrations and identified 31 people who were coming from out of town but not staying at the hotel. I made copies of my paperwork and scheduled an appointment with the Event Coordinator (I’ll call him Mr. H) to discuss the situation.
Mr. H apologized for problem with the reservations, but made no promises regarding the 50% meeting room discount. I showed him the figures proving that if just 20 of those 31 attendees had booked sleeping rooms, we would qualify for the 50% discount, and shared my conviction that the SCBWI shouldn’t have to pay for the hotel’s mistake. He said he would look into it.
I worked closely with Mr. H throughout the conference, making sure all was going well. But he still didn’t give me an answer about the meeting room discount, no matter how many times I brought up the subject. (And I brought it up a lot.) It got to the point where the minute I alluded to it, he simply turned and walked away. Undeterred, I would follow right behind, clutching my papers and saying, “As these figures plainly prove, Mr. H, we should have met the requirements…….”
When the conference ended, I met with Mr. H one final time to tally the bill. I was nervous, but determined to keep pushing for the 50% discount I really believed we deserved. So you can imagine my surprise when I asked what we owed for the meeting rooms and he replied, “Nothing. There will be no charge for any of them.” I was stunned.
The moral of this story could be that persistence pays off. Or it could be that I’m really good at nagging. But my point is actually that when we have a conflict with someone, how we treat that person matters. I may have been worried that Mr. H intended to charge us more than was fair, but I never once raised my voice to him, called him a name, accused him of cheating, etc. I stood my ground because I truly believed I was in the right, but I didn’t use that belief as an excuse to treat him badly.
The truth is, it’s not really that hard to be civil and respectful when we disagree with someone, and that when we treat others as we would like to be treated, everyone benefits. And we got the free meeting rooms to prove it….