It was totally unexpected.
I walked into work yesterday afternoon and my manager (we’ll call her Sue) approached me. She began to communicate some concerns and frustrations that were building up. I don’t want to get into the details of it all but suffice it to say that there had obviously been a REAL communication breakdown between us. I was totally caught off guard with her concerns and I was uncomfortable discussing the issues at that time and place, while there were customers in the store. The conversation did not come to any resolution and when she left for the day, I was flabbergasted. I was upset for the remaining two hours of the shift – so upset that I decided to invite Sue over last night to talk it through.
I was delighted that Sue valued our relationship enough to make the time to meet. She brought me three mason jars of homemade jam, I made some chai tea, we put on big sweatshirts and sunglasses (it was chilly, but very sunny) and we headed down to the waterfront swing.
We had a marvellous time together for the next two hours.
We spent the first hour getting to know each other better. We concluded and laughed about the fact that we have extremely different backgrounds, skill sets, personalities, communication styles and expectations. It’s no wonder there were some problems brewing on the storefront! As we moved into discussion about job-related issues, we reviewed our natural strengths and weaknesses and expressed our expectations. We also truly listened to each other and asked a lot of questions to clarify each others’s feelings. It turns out that other than my strong relational skills with the customers, I really don’t have a lot going for me in terms of working in the retail environment! I can manage most of the money transactions, blow up balloons, process dry cleaning orders, clean the store and stock the shelves but I’m not good with merchandising, I’m worse with numbers, I’m terrible at multitasking at the cash register and I definitely don’t have much natural talent or confidence when it comes to creating eye-pleasing displays.
Here I was thinking that I was doing a great job!
Sue quickly explained that she loves having me work at the store. She admitted that she approached the situation poorly and was also very upset about the fallout in the afternoon. She could see that my strength is relationships and her intention was to figure out exactly what I wanted, in terms of number of hours and merchandising responsibilities. Apparently, I’m too accommodating and too vague – as the manager, she needs bluntness, facts and quick decisions. She needed to know what I wanted, not what I thought she wanted me to do. She definitely wants me to continue working in the store and is willing to work around my…um…shortcomings.
Oh, and I’m a hugger, she’s a “high-fiver.”
Clarification. Clarification. Clarification.
I gently reminded her that 37 hours/week is NOT a part time job so she was willing to put me back to 20 hours. We also came up with some good ideas to make sure that this miscommunication doesn’t happen again.
Two hours later, we were still sitting in the dark, drinking cold tea and having a grand old time together. We had worked through the issues and our relationship was stronger than ever.
We said our “Good Nights” and….yes…we hugged.
Peace is not the absence of conflict but the ability to cope.
Unity respects people and honors God. It takes time and effort but oh, it’s so worth it.