“One real-time experience is worth a thousand theories.” - by someone who learns the lessons the hard way [Always].
I am proud to say that I am an avid reader. The management gyan such as “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”, “How to be this…”, “How to be that…” and many other collections are prominently displayed in my personal library. By now, I have good amount of management lessons stacked in my memory.
So, there came a day when divinity decided to examine my bookish knowledge and then threw me into a real-time, unforgettable workplace conflict which tested my patience, maturity, conflict management, and whatsoever soft-skills from every possible angle. The result – I failed. Miserably.
Let me give you a complete account of the test.
It was scorching hot outside and air-conditioned cold inside. The restive clock struck 2 which sounded more like a clarion call to warfare. Both sides, side A consisting of 10-persons team and side B consisting of myself only, engaged into a heated discussion crossing all the levels of etiquette and professionalism. The persons on the side A were ugly. The person on side B wasn’t a saint clad-in-white-gown either. The meeting room and the phone line sustained the disgraced allegations for solid 35 minutes before giving up.
Both sides rushed to take actions. Some managers received calls from me and some made calls to me. Some tried to calm me down and some blamed me further. Some tried to burn the bridges and some preferred to stay on either side. Some appreciated my take and some advised me to take control of the situation and stop venting.
Next day, I decided to start the day putting all resentments behind but before that I wanted to pen down some commandments for myself after deliberating the whole situation.
The moment I had seen the other side descending from their dignity in email communication, I should have refrained myself from responding. But no. My atomic-sized ego and pea-sized brain succeeded to convince me to reply which rather boomeranged. Hence,
Sometimes, not taking any action is the best action.
Another mistake I did was to stay on the call which was going only to the negative direction. My step should have been to hang up immediately when other 10 people started putting the entire blame of release-failure on my shoulder. Rather than disconnecting the call, I remained there making repetitive failed attempts to defend myself. From next time, I would remind myself that
It is waste to jump into the slime. It would only make pigs happier.
When you are right, you know it. When you are wrong, even then you know it. Do not be an egoist to apologise when you are wrong but do not be afraid of raising your voice when you are right. Report it to the concerned person in the organisation. If that also doesn’t work, then it’s time that you plan your exit from organisation because
It’s not just about work, it’s about people also you work with.
In my 12 years of experience, if someone would ask me today about my initial days assignments, then I might not recall everything about the work but I'd definitely iterate all the moments which gave me the memorable and the unpleasant feelings. Likewise, 10 years later from now, I am certain that I would have faint reflection of my current assignment too. But that conflict, the most depressing in my entire career, will always retain its place in my memory, although not on a good account. What does it mean?
Everything will fade eventually but your acts will accompany you forever.
Just before writing this article, I re-heard the recording of that meeting (fortunately I had joined the call from my personal phone having recording ability). On one hand, I feel proud for remaining dignified for some points whereas on the other hand, I criticise myself for the points when I was no different than the other side's specimen. Well, lesson is learned already.
There is no doubt that to err is human, but I would like to amend the phrase by saying
“To err is human, but not learning from mistakes is inhuman.”