I finally got to speak with the Chief of Operations about stuff. It took a lot of work. You know, people who get things done are always busy.
So, he rescheduled his talk with me to last from 5-6 instead of from 1-2. Since I had arrived at work yesterday at 7 a.m., this was disappointing. BUT! I was going to say my piece by hook or by crook.
Fine. So I had my powerpoint presentation prepared, and I was ready.
I was also nervous. Around 4, I was a little tired, cause I’d worked 9 hours already. But I was amping up to talk. Time goes by (slowly) and I sort of get all ready. The minutes between 4:45 and 5 were very long.
Should I be early? How early? 5 minutes, I decided. I walked purposefully to his office.
And he was in a meeting. It was running over.
They were taking a long time.
A half an hour went by. I thought I could be a little more forceful. I peeked in the window, caught his eye. He smiled and flashed his fingers, “10 minutes more!” he was saying.
Well. Not to drag it out too long, but…
I waited outside his door, too scared to leave so that I wouldn’t miss my opportunity.
An hour went by. I was trying to decide if I should get mad. I decided no, that the important thing was to GET TO TALK. So I poked my head in again and said, “Hey just letting you know I’m still here. ”
He kind of looked at his watch and said, “Hey..Murphy..”
I interrupted, “No problem, I don’t mind waiting.”
I was afraid that he wouldn’t want to talk to me because it was late, so I was trying to make him feel obligated to stay.
I don’t know whether he’s a workaholic or whether my guilt trip worked, but he did let me in to give my presentation.
And he complimented my powerpoint.
But more importantly, I got to tell him what was going on and what I needed to do the job I am asked to do. I feel like I was HEARD.
God, that is so important! Sun moon and stars, that is so important! I was so exhausted when we were done talking, but it felt to me like I had a chance of getting some progress made on improving the situation.
At the end of my shpeil, we talked about the problems that inspired this discussion and what needed to be done. As it happens, the concerned of (even more) upper management were different than the concerns I had raised.
So I left with some tasks to try and address THEIR concerns. During the meeting, I felt kind of dubious about being able to do anything to really solve the problem.
But I felt so great, so pleased that i had been able to be heard, that I suddenly was energized to really tackle it. I was full of ideas and plans.
Then later, as I was driving to find some dinner, I realized I knew the answer to the problem. In fact, I had known it all along. I was thrilled!
But how could I have forgotten than I knew the solution? How weird is that?
Part of the problem was that I was having trouble understanding WHAT the problem was. I had been spending so much of my time trying to deal with MY problems, that I couldn’t focus on THEIR problems.
Not to say that their problems weren’t my problems, they were. But when you spend all your time putting OUT fires, it’s hard to do any fire prevention.
So, the problems these guys were bringing up were on the level of “I don’t like the smell of smoke” when I’m trying to put out the fire. You know? I kind of had the “Can I slap you now?” reaction to these complaints.
THE WHOLE DAMN FOREST IS ABOUT TO IGNITE AND YOU ARE COMPLAINING THAT THE SMOKE SMELLS FUNNY.
So, now that I have had a chance to point out the huge (forest on fire) type of problems that i am barely keeping contained, I feel much better. I feel like I can adress the little problems.
And then I remembered something else that I have known about communication, but i forgot. I guess I forget because I’ve been working entirely by myself for a year now, and I havent had to do much communicating.
Here is the principle:
If one person has something the really need to say, the have to get it out before they can hear what you are trying to tell them.
Even if it is something you already know, you need to let them say it, and you need to let them know you understand them before you can go on to the next thing. Because a person will get fixated on the thing they need to tell you, it will dominate their attention so they won’t be able to hear the next thing.
It is important to LISTEN to people.
I don’t know, maybe I could have been a bigger person and found a way to get past my concerns and hear what the guys were saying.
But, the fact was, I got the huge GIFT of being heard. So I feel like I could drop all that stuff I was carrying and get on to something else.
I was so excited about handling new things that I could barely sleep last night.