Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Talking about the truth

Why are people so afraid of talking about uncomfortable things? I don't understand it. Something will happen in an organization to which I belong. And we're all supposed to forget about it having happened. We're certainly not supposed to talk about it. And we're definitely not supposed to talk to the person with whom we have the beef. Where's the beef, I ask? And why can't we talk about it?

OK. I should be specific, so you know the context within which I speak. I was at a board meeting the other night. We were discussing a subject that, while it did not appear on the surface to be a hot topic, definitely is so. During the course of the conversation, one of my fellow board members called us "doormats".

If you know me, you won't be surprised at my reaction to this. "DOORMAT? You're calling ME a DOORMAT?" Because, of course, everything IS about me. ;-) Clearly, this gentleman was directing his comments directly at me.


Interestingly enough, though, he did not back off one iota. Nor did he point out that he wasn't talking to me. Which I take to mean that he was talking to me, as well as the others in the room. He continued talking and calling us doormats. I was a bit perturbed. Imagine that, knowing me.

So, anyway, I wrote an email about it to the board yesterday. Again, imagine that, me wanting to clarify and actually talk about what happened. I said that I thought Mr. X should apologized. Why? Because, last time I checked, name calling was not on the approved list of business behaviors. Even relatively benign name calling.

Of course, I did make one eentsy, weentsy crack about not necessarily being up to date on business behaviors since, after all, I am just a house wife. But beyond that crack, I really was very sincere and business-like, discussing the issues inherent in the angst-ridden discussion.

No responses. None. Nada. Zip. Definitely no apology from Mr. X. And no other on point responses from the rest of the board. What's up with that? Are they all DOORMATS or something?

I'm really surprised that I haven't heard back from Mr. X. He's a good guy, a hard worker, and bright and usually polite person. I would have expected him to be somewhat contrite, though not to apologize for his position (nor would I expect or want him to).

I don't know. I don't understand why hiding from things is more comfortable than discussing them. It so does not work for me. I would prefer to know what others think, rather than to ponder in the wee hours of the morning what they might be thinking. I know that I'm in the vast minority, that most people avoid conflict, avoid discomfort. And I'm truly not advocating confrontation for every situation. I get that confrontation and discussion is not always the best immediate route. But here's what I said to someone about a similar situation:

"As you've probably guessed by now, I'm all for opening cans of worms. If you don't, they rot and smell bad. The smell rarely is contained by the can and it tends to linger. I'm also all for being circumspect about when and how you open that can, if there are good reasons for waiting or managing the situation in a different way. It's not a pleasant job."

I'm getting really tired of this position I hold on this particular board. Really tired.

Until tomorrow,


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