I have mentioned that, after the age of three, no one likes surprises. If you forget that, as I did earlier this week, the results can be painful.
A reader commented on one of my strongly-worded blog posts. They disagreed vehemently. I was not surprised.
What surprised me was the offline contact from the reader who explained why they took the subject so seriously; it was something they were facing in a very real way, right now.
What followed was a 5,000-word email conversation about the issue, which finally ended in complete agreement with my original post.
Here's where the 'learning experience' happens.
Re-reading the 10 pages of conversation I realized that this was information nearly anyone could benefit from. I asked if, perhaps, I could share an anonymised version of the conversation with others.
The answer was a horrified emphatic 'no!'
I realized after some thought that I had changed contexts; from a private conversation to a public forum. No, nothing had really changed, and I certainly hadn't shared anything with anyone. But simply asking the question was unexpected; the surprise we're supposed to be avoiding.
Don't go around surprising people. It doesn't work.