Lessons Learned 2

This is the second in a series of posts inspired by something I read recently.  If you missed the first entry, click HERE and read the full story.

Lesson #2:  There are always two or more sides to a story.

One of the issues that I read about in the diary was how two employees had “complained” that I ask them to stop receiving visitors in the department.  I guess because there were two complaints, my boss automatically assumed I was being unreasonable.  Then, according to my notes, I explained that one family member was disruptive of the department and the other one used our office as her personal phone line during lunch hour.  Needless to say, when my boss heard why I asked them to leave, she changed her mind about my behavior.

I honestly don’t remember much about that.  In the years since I left that company, something else stayed in my mind and that part of the conversation had not even made a dent on my consciousness until I read it.  It does raise an interesting dynamic:  there are always as many versions to a story as people involved in a situation.

When you are working with people, there are always going to be situations.  We are all humans and we have different human experiences.  We strive for getting along.  In the best of circumstances, there will always be issues.  The important thing is how we handle those issues.  In the case that I described above, my boss was upset that I had “kicked some people out”.  When she heard why, she knew that I had the best interest of the department in mind and that I was acting appropriately.  Had she not listen to me, she would have had a very different impression of the events and her decisions would have been affected by a story that was missing a few pieces.

I often wonder what makes people act in certain ways under certain circumstances.  For example:  why did these two people tell my boss that I asked their friends to leave, and yet, conveniently leave the reason behind?  It would seem obvious to think that they wanted the sympathy.  Maybe they wanted me fired.  I am not sure.  I have a feeling that they thought I would get reprimanded and that would be the end of that.  Oh, and their loved ones would be welcomed back to interrupt the work any time they wanted.  I wonder how that turned out.

We never know what motivates people to act the way they do.  I heard the US Vice-President say that we should never question other people’s motives.  We might agree or disagree with their actions, but not their motives.  I do believe that our motives vary depending to many factors:  upbringing, peer pressure, education, etc.  All those things color our motives and our perceptions of reality.  Maybe these two people just did not think the reason why I asked their family and friends to leave was not relevant to the conversation.  The bottom line is that we will never know why and that’s ok.  We should focus on keeping this in mind:  there will be several versions to every reality, based on how many witnesses you have for that event.  Learn to deal with that reality and you will be a great leader.

If you have an example of a similar situation, leave your comments below.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeanine Byers Hoag
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 16:49:40

    I find this important when something happens within my family that bothers me. I catch myself all too often telling my son what I think his motive was, and that’s usually the thing that bothered me, far more than the behavior or choice.

    It often turns out that his motive was different than what I thought. So this is a good reminder to focus on the behavior in question and not be so sure we know what the motive is.


  2. admin
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 19:27:26

    Jeanine, thank you for your honesty. I think we are all guilty of this at times. We tend to think about the “hidden agenda” instead of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. I have spent the last couple of years working on no judgment. Some days I am really good, no matter how horrible the circumstances. I guess when it hits closer to home, we loose a little perspective. Keep working at it. Mom – kid relationships are an interesting thing: we did not get a users manual when we get them.

    I hope you guys find a happy medium.

  3. Sheila
    Oct 06, 2010 @ 00:52:11

    I am not focused on motive……I am focused on “agenda.” Many times I spoke not a word about a particular irregularity that had an “unethical” agenda. Needless to say, I was implicated as the one that spoke of the behavior. Case in point: You do not tell clients that someone is “gone” so you can secure them for your own……Business wise, this is known as “stealing,” and they will yell til the cows come home if you do that to them! So maybe silence is really golden…..for the ego has no idea whether “you just don’t like them,” or they are actuality acting in an inappropriate manner! Either way, the behavior, will usually “tell” on itself! Just “hide and watch!”

  4. admin
    Oct 06, 2010 @ 10:14:02

    Wow, Sheila. When you put it that way, I don’t want to focus on either one.
    I used to work in an environment where a particular member of the group liked to “steal” clients. Unfortunately for us, the boss did not discourage it. She did not last long because in her zeal for stealing clients, she started making many production mistakes that cost the company a lot of money and the clients a lot of aggravation. Her short term goal was accomplished, she got all those commissions. She lost them all paying for the mistakes she made.

    My question to you is: do you really want to work like that? How much energy do you spend waiting for someone else to stab you in the back? If you are reading this blog, I believe you want something else. Would love to know what you think.

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