A lesson learned
It was the early seventies. I was seeing customers from coast to coast. One day I called back to the office to get my messages. (before the days of voice-mail). Farm broadcaster Gene Davis answered; so I asked for Verni.
“She’s quit!” was Gene’s response.
“Quit? You’ve gotta be kidding! Why?” was my question.
To which Gene told me: “She’s angry with you; you’re the reason she’s quit!”
Turns out she WAS angry at me. Frankly I couldn’t understand it. I thought we had a perfect relationship. So a few days later I sat down with her and got to the bottom of it. I’d unintentionally mistreated her on a payroll matter months before. And, candidly, there were a few minor other ways that I’d pompously hurt her. I got the payroll matter fixed in short order; the interpersonal skills part took some effort and time. I learned two things from that event:
- Everyone is different: some will tell you quickly how they feel while others harbor injustices and hurt. So inquire frequently about your standing with associates: How are we doing? Is there anything I’ve done recently that you didn’t understand or that hurt your feelings? Obviously this can work within your family too. some call this “keeping short accounts”. And then, of course, listen to your shortcomings hearing with empathy ways you should have communicated more clearly.
- When I’m on the receiving end –when I’ve been hurt by another– I need to do the hard thing and do it quickly: I must confront the individual by saying something like: You know the more I thought about what you said this morning, the more I felt hurt by it. Can we discuss it?
These “keeping short account” muscles aren’t ones we exercise a lot, are they? Trust me, the more we use them, the stronger they get. Learn reconciliation.