When is it too late to say something?Nov 03, 2020
Something was bothering Susan. A smart, energetic, young professional with a bright future, she is the kind of employee a boss worries about keeping.
Months ago, she had been referred to by a senior executive as “my research assistant.” Susan has a PhD, and does not see herself as anyone’s assistant.
Since the incident, she had been carrying around a lingering distaste for both the executive and, by extension, the organization, which in her mind “allowed this kind of culture to perpetuate.”
“It’s too late for me to say anything,” she confided in one of our coaching sessions.
“Well, it happened months ago. If I say anything now, it will make me look bad, like a complainer.”
“Well, you clearly haven’t forgotten the incident, and it still has power over you. How do you feel about it now?”
“I feel angry...like how could they allow for this to be OK?”
“So you’re feeling anger. Why?”
“What do you mean? He’s an insensitive jerk.”
“I mean, look inside at the unmet need that comes out as anger.”
[thinking] “I guess my need to be respected isn’t being met.”
“Is your need to be respected still affecting your working relationship with this person and the organization?”
“Then it’s not too late to say something to him. This is your choice.”
“But he’s a Vice President!”
“And you get what you tolerate.”
She used her training and spoke with him constructively, and was actually relieved to learn that he didn’t see her that way but had just been unaware of his word-choice.
Had she not said anything, she might still have been carrying around that anger.
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