Avoid Feeling Foolish
"Early in my career I had a supervisor who was rather crusty, just a bit difficult to be around. He could be a real pain in the butt. One day I was having Chinese food with a group of theadministrative leaders from the company's main office. We were all friends and did things together often. The topic of my supervisor came up and I foolishly took the opportunity to bad mouth, put down, and complain about his cranky, difficult approach. I didn't hold anything back about how troublesome he was to get along with at work. All the while, and unknown to me, one of my lunch friends was dating my prickly supervisor. She hadn't said anything about it to any of our luncheon group so none of us knew it. A few months later they ended up getting married! Boy did I feel like a fool!
"The lesson I learned from this experience is if a person's work style, communication patterns, office behavior bothers me - I need to talk directly to them. I learned to never fall into the trap of being critical about other people behind their back. When I have an issue with someone, I need to 'stab them in the chest' (figuratively) with the issue, not in the back with critical gossip. I need to exercise the courage to have that difficult conversation.
"The action I call you to take when you have an issue with someone is to talk directly to that person about the issue that is bothering you. If it is not important enough for you to talk to them directly then just refrain from talking about it at all.
"The benefit you will gain is your conscience will be clear, you won't live with guilt, and you won't feel one inch tall the next time you cross paths with them. Besides, we all live in a house of mirrors and echo chambers where karma is powerful and real."
What a wonderful story to remind us of the importance of talking with people rather than talking about them. The details dramatize for us how important it is to keep our counsel.
When we hear negative things about someone we don't agree with one of the best things we can do is end the conversation.You can simply say, "That's interesting" or "That's good to know" and then change the subject. If someone persists on talking critically about a person who is not present, you may need to be more direct and say, "Hold on. If it were me, I'd want the chance to tell you my side of this story."
Talk WITH people rather than ABOUT them
—Larry W. Dennis, Sr. President Turbo Leadership Systems