Six months ago….
After a long day at work, I was waiting for my manager in his cabin. It was 8.10 PM and I was in a mood to close the 1-1 as soon as possible with him and get back home.
He came in, was quite serious. “You seem to have lost your rhythm at work. You have grown to be irresponsible. You haven’t been concentrating on the quality and there is no transparency with you. I am forced to question your dedication, commitment and your willingness to work along with this team. I was not expecting this from you.” – This was only the gist of what he said. It was one-sided conversation for more than 40 minutes, all of it in negative and I did not utter a word in-between.
By the end of the conversation I was feeling as if I am dead and strongly felt the need to introspect. If my manager is saying all this, there must be a reason. I couldn’t sleep the entire night; this is the first ever time he has displayed disappointment. In fact, the very first time anyone has, in my entire career. I was very upset with myself.
After a couple of days of this conversation, I was at home when my phone rang – my manager. It was almost 10 PM and I wondered what complaints he has at this hour of the day, “Please, not again!” was my thought.
“I am sorry Aastha. I am quite disturbed from the day we had our 1-1. I am very sorry for all that I said. Can we meet for lunch tomorrow?”, said he. I agreed.
Our conversation during lunch the next day:
Him: “I didn’t mean to hurt you or I never meant anything of what I said. I tried to irritate you a lot during our last 1-1 and it was deliberate. I was studying your facial expressions and expected you to react and at least defend yourself. Why didn’t you react?”
Me: “You were giving me feedback. Either you learnt about me from someone or you have observed the change in me over time. Negative feedback isn’t bad.”
Him: “You weren’t even angry. I could guess you were upset, but that’s all. I am actually confused now.”
Me: “What is that you are confused about?”
Him: “If the same would have happened between you and your Architect?”
Me: “Now, I understand where you are coming from. I would react and I have reacted too”
Him: “Why didn’t you react in the conversation between us?”
Me: “That’s because I respect your opinion”
Him: “You came and told me that you lost your temper. I also got to know that you apologized to your architect for the same, but I fail to understand why is it that you cannot handle him ? You are quite balanced, this is surprising to me.”
This conversation triggered a lot of thoughts in me. Yes, I do agree that I lost it, lost it completely. I have been listening to continuous blames and taking a lot of insult. This wasn’t in a closed room or a face to face discussion, but a lot of people were involved. Lack of trust can piss off anyone and so was it with me. A fine mix of all of these feelings boxed in me over a period of time result in the ‘REACTION’. I was not happy with myself, but what’s wrong with me ?
If we observe carefully, very often it is the person or the place more than what he/she said. Either we love the other person and weren’t expecting such statements or we dislike the other person and cannot stand what he/she said. If it’s a public place, that’s worse. In either of these situations, we are on extremes. Because in ‘that moment’ our response has nothing to do with logic, understanding or intelligence and everything to do with emotion (insecurity, anger, fear, resentment). We don’t actually think, consider or plan, we just react. When our emotions are so deep rooted it is hard to not react. It takes time to gain willful control over our emotions and more importantly holding on to the impulse to not react.
“What made me react ?” – This is the very first question we should be asking ourselves when we realise we reacted. Once we know the why’s that have been controlling our emotions, it is easier to handle them. Find out your why’s, that’s the key !!
I asked myself if there is anything I can do to make the situation better ? Once I realised that my architect is hopeless, I gave up on him. I barely talk with him, I don’t find it very necessary because it is impacting me in negative ways. My life at work is more sorted out now and to my surprise my architect came back to me asking, “Why haven’t you been voicing out your opinion, you should”. I know his intentions, and I am not gonna fall prey again …
Let’s be a little honest here, even after we react, we try to handle the situation by responding. Because a thoughtful response is the only way to make things better. As we learn this, we would tend to prefer responding than reacting.