In catching up the other day with a dear friend of mine, she shared an interesting story. To create a little context, after a few years of running her own successful business, she and her husband decided to move to BC to start laying their groundwork for their 'what's next?' To finance their plans she's gone back to work for a company she was employed at years ago. As can happen with the newbie, she was given several 'performance problems'. She was handed the unenviable task of letting go of one particular employee that had run out his chances.
Now my friend is the Queen of Customer Service and her unfailing faith in people. So rather than fire him, she took the time to hear him out. Apparently he was very reactive initially. When someone senses bad news, it's not unusual to see defensive/ reactive behaviour. With ever her eye on the long game, my friend didn't bite. Did not react to his reactions by debating and making him wrong. Listening intently she clarify what she was hearing by asking questions, reiterating comments and/or by stating facts and consequences. With nothing to push back on, this fellow settled down and engaged in a productive conversation. Her manager wasn't happy. This fellow was to be out the door. But he admired my friend's abilities enough to be willing to see what would happen.
Upshot is the fellow is still there, working well and relatively happily. Her telling of this story gave me goosebumps. It has such implications for so much of what we see happening in the world around us. Reacting, chaffing, thin skins are taking us far from the long game. The tit for tat comments generated in the media continually stir the pot. Keep us diverted from the bigger picture. Thoughtfulness is a rare find. A measured response allows more information to come to light and creates a space for more information to be shared back.
So much is coming at us quickly. It can be hard not to react. Yet the potential value of taking some time, gathering some information (facts) and looking at the broader implications can create a better outcome. If it doesn't immediately or down the road, you haven't really lost anything. You still deal with the issue. You have though maintained a dignity and respect. In the case of my friend, had he not followed through, she would have had no compunction about letting him go. In the end she happy she didn't need to.