It is a cold and rainy day today. A perfect day for a nice bowl of chili that has been simmering on the stove. There are times when a nice slow simmer not only brings out the flavor but enhances the experience as the house feels with the delicious comforting smell. Then there are times when a slow simmer has the opposite affect.
Simmering about something someone has said or done to you can cause things to boil over. A simple misunderstanding can lead hurt feelings and anger that could be quickly dissipated if addressed. At one time or another, we all have made mistakes, said something we wish we could take back, and behaved in a way that we wished we hadn’t.
We have hurt someone in some way over the course of our lifetime, sometimes without even realizing we’ve caused pain. Sadly, some injuries run deeper than others, but we have all been there. We have felt a blow and have dealt a blow. Instead of simmering about it and letting something blow up, we should address things in the moment. Try to see the other person’s side. Where are they coming from? Is the baggage they carry around greater than yours? Could we have misunderstood or took something out of context. Did they not say hi because they are having a bad day, worried about something at home. We tend to take things personal. Did we make them mad? Do something to hurt their feelings?
None of us are immune to misunderstandings, misinterpretations or misrepresentations. I had an experience recently that a felt a coworker was being disrespectful to myself as well as team members during meetings. Cutting them off, dismissing their ideas. After one particular call, I had a few team members call or instant message me asking what her problem was, they were angry at being shut down and felt she was hostile and they felt attacked. We could have continue to and take it personal, hanging up from every call angry, but I felt she was a nice person and wasn’t rude during 1×1 calls. Something was different about group calls. Was I doing as a facilitator might be triggering her inappropriate behavior in the meeting? Did she think the junior level attendees shouldn’t make policy decisions?
I had a separate meeting with this person to talk about her behavior and asked if I was doing something as a facilitator that she disagreed with. I gave her examples of her cutting off junior members of the team, but she always seemed open to listening and sharing ideas with senior members. Her tone would even shift to softer and joking with a senior member to short and biting with a junior member. She wasn’t surprised and said she heard that a lot and admitted that another coworker would instant message her during meetings to tell her to stand down. My question was if this has been brought to her attention before, why continue the behavior? Response? It is her personality. She is blunt and abrupt, it is her style. She said she never intended for anyone to feel their opinion was not valued. I explained all though it was her natural style it was impacting the collaboration of the team, it was making members afraid to talk. She corrected her behavior and the meetings have shifted.
I guess it is like the old saying don’t go to bed angry. Bring things out in the open. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it is better than letting something simmer building resentment and anger.