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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crucial Conversation

Kenz and I have recently recommitted to apply Marvin J. Ashton's definition of charity to our lives. Simply put, "Charity is expecting the best of each other."
Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other. - Marvin J. Ashton
As the volunteer director of an outreach program for the Red Cross, I have recently hit some bumps in the road. One specific bump is a staff member who has put up a fuss about some of what my volunteers and I hope to accomplish. Some of her actions have honestly come across as backstabbing and downright petty. In that I felt I had established a professional and friendly relationship with her, I was very surprised by her outburst.

I have done my best to maintain a high level of transparency in the organization. Everyone knows or can know what we are doing, when our meetings are, and even our meeting agendas. Drama is the last thing I want to cause or participate in.

This staff member has never directly approached me with her criticism or concerns. Perhaps that's why her actions have been so hurtful. I found out from another staff member that she was covertly attempting to cause problems for me. (I am grateful that the other staff are supportive.)

But how is it possible to expect the best from someone whose actions imply -- or scream out -- malicious intent?

I honestly had a couple of hours that I had to come to terms with the situation. After that, my first thought was, "Here we go. Crucial Conversation time." Today, two days after the event, I sent an email to said staff member. I invited her to meet and discuss her concerns openly and directly. In doing so, I hope to have opened the path to mutual understanding and respect.

I hope to have expected the best of her.


Amanda Jeffs said...

Great quote by Elder Ashton. Definitely something we can all live by. Looks like you handled the situation like a pro.

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