Yesterday I had a lesson on how mean people can be. Now, I realize in the grand scheme of things, even in the grand scheme of my puny life, having someone make an unkind comment to me is essentially meaningless; however, it took me by surprise and thus elicited a very strong reaction from me.
As some background – in anticipation of having a team-leader position (quasi or real) to apply for in my office (which position never materialized, long story), I signed up for a “Great Leaders” class offered by my employer through Franklin Covey. I liked the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People class I took a number of years ago and so this seemed like a good bet too. It is a fairly big commitment – three Tuesdays in a row – with reading and homework and projects to work on before and after. One of the things I had to do in advance was request that people complete a “360 assessment” of my leadership skills. I sent a request to 25 people and 13 of them responded (what does THAT say, I wonder?).
Yesterday I printed out the report to take to the first class – noting that the numbers were about what I expected, maybe a little better. Until I got to the last written (anonymous) comment.
It was not directed at my work, but at me personally and was…mean.
There’s really no other way to describe it. It was mean. And it took me by surprise. And it made me cry.
People I shared the comment with said it was the mark of a mean-spirited, probably jealous person and that I should disregard it and focus on the constructive comments. I want to, believe me, I do. BUT – here’s the problem: the people I asked to complete the assessment were people I respect and with whom I work relatively frequently and closely. These are people who, though they may not be my besties and from whom I expected some tough constructive criticism, I thought respected me as well. To find out that one of them – haven’t figured out who – not only thinks I suck as a leader, but as a human being too. Wow. That hurts. And there’s absolutely NOTHING I can do to fix it. Haters, gonna hate, hate, hate.
There are some of the responders or potential responders who I know for certain did NOT make the comment. But I couldn’t figure out how I would interact with the others now? I was embarrassed. And so I sat there and cried. And cried. And cried. I wasn’t sobbing or anything but I couldn’t’ stop my eyes from leaking for about 40 minutes. And then for the rest of the day anytime I thought about it, my eyes would well up again. I got a migraine for my troubles and I fell asleep last night without even saying goodnight to anyone at about 8pm. Great day.
I am given to self-pity and wallowing – I know that about myself. I am, in general, not a shiny, happy person. It doesn’t take much to derail my mood and send me into a dark place for longer than I care to stay. It sometimes requires a great force of will and some real effort (and a lot of sleep) to get out of the mire. So…today I am trying shake it off - focus on work, focus on my homework, and take steps to just move on. I asked someone to be my mentor through the homework process. I sent a draft purpose statement to my teammates for comment. I printed out everything I need to take to DC with me next week. I haven’t mentioned it to anyone today. But I still keep wondering which of my co-workers has that low opinion of me and why. Which has made shaking it off difficult.
Until...I got an e-mail from someone at HQ asking me to teach the [my job] course as part of a new attorneys class in May. It's only 2 hours and I could probably do it in my sleep, but it felt G.R.E.A.T. to be asked to do something that validates my talent, even if only in my own mind. Take that hater.