Thursday, September 24, 2009

Putting a Lid on It

I did an awful thing last night, something I have really worked hard at not doing for many years. I talked about someone I really don't like to a “group” of people, violating one of my own rules. And I feel pretty miserable because of it. I actually had an out-of-body experience, listening to myself spewing, all the while thinking, Mary shut your mouth – but it just kept coming.

When my job developed into a “human resource” position that involved dealing with everyone that I worked with, even those I didn't particularly like, I realized that I needed to be very careful about what I said about people – and to whom. It wouldn't be too difficult to find yourself caught up in a major scandal or being placed in a very precarious position by saying the wrong thing about someone at the wrong time. Being in Human Resources required the ability to listen objectively to everyone and often mediating between opposing parties – taking no sides.

In business, learning how to play at politics, was a very important and necessary lesson, as today's foe becomes tomorrow's friend – or vice versa. So better not bad-mouth someone, even one on the outs, because in a year they could be in a position of power.

Another reason for not talking about people to others is that the listener to your opinion may start to wonder what you are saying about “them” when they are not around. I'll always remember the night I went out to dinner with two lady friends. The two friends were closer to each other than I to either of them. We saw each other at parties, special times of the year, occasional dinners, etc. The evening began on a great note, everyone catching up on recent events. One of the ladies (we'll call her friend #1) left the table for the ladies room. As soon as she was out of earshot, the other (#2) started in: “do you believe so/so; did you hear what she said.... what do you think of her hair....” all in a hurried, hush/hush voice! I just muttered, being a bit taken aback by the barrage of questions. Well, it didn't take long for lady friend #2 to have to make her trip to the ladies room. Just as before, “friend” #1 started in on #2: “do you believe #2, look at her weight, what about her hair....” At that point I was wondering if I should go to the ladies room or stay glued to my seat.

Okay, I am not an angel. Yes, there are times when I will chime in (even go on a tirade), comment on a friend's behavior, especially if it was bad, and I am "sharing" with a close friend – or with my sisters – boy can we do a number! But I think I try not to be cruel, and try to take the stance that people are who they are, take them or leave them. Often, they are left – as I don't believe in keeping negative influences in my life.

Last night I couldn't stop my mouth from running away with me. I have no idea what I was trying to prove. I think all along I had been looking for an opening and just took it. Trying to vindicate myself for decisions I made because of the bad behavior of another – and instead of feeling vindicated, I feel like a very bad, insecure person. It proved nothing except that I haven't learned to forgive – and I haven't learned how to move on. My ego still gets in the way (as my friend EA would say).

I don't know what is going to get me over that hump. If I went to church, they would probably say – forgive the person and then forget about it. If I followed Landmark Education they would suggest I call the person and straighten it out – which probably isn't a bad idea. Perhaps one day I will have that opportunity and I will try not to blow it by being mean. As they teach you in employee performance management – focus on the behaviors/issues/actions – not on the person (personal traits). And in marriage counseling – it's focus on how “it” made you feel, and not on “them.” In the meantime, I will work on keeping my mouth shut when someone's name comes up in conversation... and deal with “the person” face to face at the first opportunity.

It's been another beautiful day, and yet another lesson to master.


gpcmouse said...

I have a prayer hanging on my office wall (remember I DO work in a church) which says 'Lord, keep Your arm around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth.'

Anonymous said...

Sometimes our feelings get in the way of us being objective. To err is human- thanks for being in the human race...remember people are people no matter where they are some are more jealous...look at it that way instead of beating yourself up. Stay positive

Lisa Ruff said...

I thought about this awhile. Perhaps your inability to stop saying what you were, though you could "see" the wrongness, was like an infection bursting out. It festers and festers and then just erupts as part of the healing process. You can only hold so much inside; somehow it's going to come out. Don't beat yourself up over it. See it as a healing that should have been done a long time ago. I like the idea of talking to the person, though I think I'd commit my speech to paper, sit on it a while, then see if I really needed to vent to them in reality. Some people, usually the ones we dislike, don't respond well to honest conversations (because they sense the dislike?). In the meantime: be healed, baby. Be healed.