I have always thought of myself as a person that could mediate an inflamed situation but after this particular session I think I realized that there is a lot more to making a circumstance of opposed thought a smooth event.
I have been in a position of authority since I was 23 years old when I became a crew chief. I had many men 20 years + my senior working under me and I was constantly met with resentment from a lot of people because I was so young.
I had to get real tough real fast and learn to never back down from the opposition and not worry about what others think. Being tossed to the wolves was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.
During Friday’s class I started thinking of how I used to act as a younger man.
You see I was brought up my some crusty old boys that would give a person an un-merciless amount of shit on a daily basis and if you couldn’t hack it you were gone. I saw a lot of people crumble under this onslaught because they lacked the thick skin that I was blessed with. I guess I just never cared what people say or think and just gave it back.
Looking back at this time in my life was pretty awesome. This time period was actually the end of an era, an era where you could tell someone what you really think and throw in some degrading profanity in the process and you could avoid getting in trouble.
I was also thinking how these guys would have been the current epitome of civil discourse. They would have never tolerated all of this sensitive stuff of today and would never survive because they would have had their ass’s sued off.
Now as for myself, I held onto this way of behaving a few years longer than I probably should have. I was a massive heckler and was completely unaware and could care less about how people felt or the ramifications. I still think people need to lighten up and take things at face value; however after Friday I truly learned the importance of civil dialogue in order to keep the wheel greased and moving smooth.
Sitting there I remembered a particular instance that was the game changer for my behavior.
Before I owned RJR I had an employee that in my opinion was kind of sue happy and was a little displaced.
I used to give this guy kind of a bad time like anyone else and I took for granted that he had a thick skin. Well I was very wrong about that.
I insinuated that he liked to have intercourse with barnyard animals and the next thing I knew HR was coming down on me like hell hath no fury.
In short form, after all was said and done the guy no longer worked at RJR and myself and the rest of the company had to sit through sensitivity training. Boy they sure hated me for that.
While this is an extremely condensed version of the story, in hind sight this person did me a great favor. By being the person that they were at the time and doing what they did, it made me wake up and do some serious re-evaluation of things and it helped me completely change the way I go about interactions. Sometimes a person just needs a swift kick to the nuts in order to wake up. So thank you anonymous person.
Going back to last Friday in leadership made me realize that we are truly in a different world and if we are to get by, we have to adapt if we are to succeed.
Civil dialogue is a fantastic start. If we can keep different groups calm enough to see the big picture we as the human race can evolve into something far beyond anything we imagined.