One email changed my life. Less than one hundred words set me upon a new course in life. And the lessons that I learned through that event have changed me and my home.
This past year, I received a letter from the management in my company, notifying all part-time employees that they were no longer eligible for holiday pay. Some tenured employees, like me, would also be demoted with a pay-loss as the organizational structure was changing. The little note was sent out at the end of the business day and ended with a wish for our happiness during the Christmas season. However, what was missing, was the fact that the next holiday was less than 7 days away. And yes, part-time employees still had to work that holiday.
A firestorm of email, comments, and private messaging ensued. Management tried to control the damage, but the hurt was too deep and the chaos ensued. Service wait times increased dramatically and quality levels dropped (painfully).
Through this, I learned 4 main lessons of leadership that apply to all change. So, when changes happen…
A choice of attitude must be made
In work and in your home, there will be changes that occur. Changes such as, “What will you do?” after one spouse’s employment changes, a child moves away from home, or something as minor as where you will spend Christmas this year – all require a check in your attitude. Some decisions are easy, others are rough.
Some decisions come with processing grief and change. When the upsetting talks or text messages are received, you have a choice at that moment.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Maya Angelou
Blowing up and snarky comments may be your default in those times, but learning to evaluate your attitude before responding will save you a great amount of future pain.
Do not give a passive or passive-aggressive response
The passive response is often one of silence. The doom and gloom mentality which passively accepting everything that comes. In a marriage, this is seen when the relationship has a heavy-handed approach on one end and a quiet mousy-like partner. However, this is not a quality marriage relationship as one person is getting lost in the mix. The passive one does not have a voice and is often forgotten about.
Snarky comments, snide remarks, and a failure to complete the job at hand is the sign of a passive-aggressive response. Initially, giving out these responses can make a person feel good, but they can really cause a lot of issues. Issues that run deep and a hard to rut out. Marriage counseling is usually the only recourse for these concerns that have been there for years.
Make Your Voice Count
Of the 7 billion people that are on the earth today, very few are mute. The other people all have a voice. Some are children. Some are elderly. Some are unable to speak for themselves. Some are disabled. But, if you do not fit into those categories, it is your choice to decide whether to use it.
“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” Audre Lorde
In your marriage and in your work, do not be afraid to use your voice. Not only will you gain courage by standing up for what you believe is right, you will also help those who are not able to stand up for themselves. In my situation above, I was the second person to reply back to management.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t brave enough to be the first one. But someone was. She took an enormous amount of pressure for her email. When I saw it, I knew I could no longer be silent. The last-minute changes were not right, and the discriminatory changes were sneakily targeted at part-time employees. So I chose to make my voice count, and let them know that what they were doing was wrong.
Politeness and kindness are always appropriate
“Mind your manners” is said by most mothers in the world, and the truth of that statement is always present. No matter what issue we are facing, you can choose to be polite. Politeness is not passivity. Politeness is not a blank-statement of an agreement. It is simply respecting everyone around you, reminding yourself that no one is better or worse than you.
Being kind to all that you come into contact with is a reflection of the Golden Rule, as stated, doing to others as you would have them do unto you. No spouse wants unkindness or rudeness given to them, and neither do they want to have their feelings to be hurt. When you can make a response polite and kind, you will affect a positive change in the other person’s life.
“Most comedy is based on getting a laugh at somebody else’s expense. And I find that that’s just a form of bullying in a major way. So I want to be an example that you can be funny and be kind, and make people laugh without hurting somebody else’s feelings.” Ellen DeGeneres
In crafting my response, I chose not to name call, use derogatory statements, foul language, or anything that would hinder my message. Just as in a marriage, it is tempting to call someone lazy or yell at them, but that really is not effective. It does not encourage positive change. It simply reinforces a negative response in the person. Negative responses such as hurt feelings, anger, yelling in return, and a potential loss in the relationship. So choose today to make your words kind and polite.
I am happy to report that after my email, there were several more from other employees who were affected just like me with the potential loss of holiday pay and demotions, and my management reversed their course. 100 percent! No loss of pay, no one got demoted, and (thankfully) no one was fired for speaking up.
The lessons that I learned through this have helped me realize that I don’t have to just passively accept all changes that come down to me. I have a choice to stand up for what I believe in and use my voice. While it may be easier to talk to my husband than it is my manager at work, I am still equally able to speak up when necessary. Lastly, choosing to be polite and kind rallied my coworkers and I received many positive replies from this. In a marriage, politeness and kindness mean that my bond with my spouse will strengthen instead of weaken.
So next time when you are faced with a nasty-gram or sudden changes in your business or marriage, implement these four actions and step back and watch. Something pleasantly magical may just occur!