When I hear the term buzz kill, I think of the last song at high school dances. You’re embracing someone and thinking about the kiss that’s coming soon. Then, wham, the lights go on. Dance over. In the gymnasium glare, teen bliss is obliterated by the vision of your peers’ sweaty, flushed faces. You realize you probably look horrendous, too.
With the flip of a switch, the mood changes from lovely to awful.
One recent weekend, I was a buzz kill victim twice.
Buzz Kill 1: My husband, who finds it nearly impossible to spend money on himself, has coveted Maui Jim Sunglasses for five years. We were in Florida, which has sunglasses stores on every corner. If I could find a good deal, I thought, I could convince my husband to do something nice for himself. I could easily buy the sunglasses for him, but I wanted him to lay down the cash himself.
The first three stores offered no deals. At the fourth, I pointed to the desired sunglasses and said, “If we buy these now with cash, how good of deal can you give us?” The woman replied, “Too bad you weren’t here yesterday. We held a 20 percent storewide sale.” I asked, “Would you honor that price today?” Without hesitating, she answered, “Nope.”
Our mood instantly changed from feeling excitement to disappointment. We left.
Buzz Kill 2: Flying home on a small plane, I sat next to my 11-year-old. We had just eaten breakfast, but Kendall wanted me to buy her one of the goodies the flight attendant was offering. She complained loudly enough for the whole plane to hear, “How can you not have free snacks for kids? Mom, get me something. I’m dyyyyyyying.’ ”
The flight attendant rolled her eyes and moved on. My daughter moaned liked a wounded animal and laid her head on the tray table. I rubbed her back, and she calmed down.
A couple of minutes later, the plane’s noises changed as though we might be preparing to land. Still rubbing my daughter’s back, I said, “See, honey, we’re making our descent. We’ll be on the ground in a couple of minutes, and I’ll get you something decent to eat before the next flight.”
The same flight attendant quickly reappeared and said, “We aren’t landing. That sound is the plane slowing down. We’ve got at least 30 minutes.”
Kendall instantly went from being mellow to moaning. I wanted to punch that flight attendant.
I doubt these ladies meant to be buzz kills. Had they thought a moment before squashing our hopes, the sunglasses salesperson would have realized rubbing our faces in a missed opportunity was unlikely to result in a full-price sale, and the flight attendant would have known that telling a hormonal 11-year-old to wait longer would make things worse.
Here’s how they—and more important, you—can avoid being a buzz kill: Before you speak, take a nanosecond and ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to say going to help or hurt the situation?”
And how do you deal with someone else’s buzz kill? Shake it off and keep going.
The fifth sunglasses store had a buy-one-get-one-free sale, so my husband bought his Maui Jims plus a spare pair for me. And my daughter enjoyed a tuna sub at the connecting airport.