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Don’t screw up in the last 5 seconds!

There is a saying from Lao Tzu that I have carried with me ever since I first read it in my teenage years. It ends with the admonition:

“Be as careful at the end as at the beginning and there will not be any ruined enterprises.”

Imagine that you are (God forbid!) in a state of extreme mental pain; things are going downhill. You are nervous about the psychiatrist or therapist you go to see, wondering if he or she will be nice, will be able to help you. She greets you warmly enough, seems attentive and empathic during the session, and you begin to relax. She seems concerned about what you are going through. When the session ends, you both rise. “I’ll see you next week,” she says at the end. Then as you are about to turn around to leave she breaks eye contact, turns away a few seconds before you do, and picks up her phone to check her voicemail. Or starts to look through her mail. Can you visualize this scene? Would it make you feel a certain way?

We are all busy, but not that busy. Let the person break eye contact, turn away, and leave before you start doing something else. It only takes a few seconds but will save him or her from that miniature rejection. And s/he will leave with a stronger feeling of connectedness to you.

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