I had a quote come across my Instagram account yesterday that got me thinking. “Everyone in your life speaks a clear message to you. It’s not found in their words but in how they treat you.” No author was credited. I thought of three different blog posts that I could spin off of that thought. I finally settled on this – The way we treat people is a reflection of us, not them.
I used to work full time at a construction company. A large part of what I did involved writing proposals in an attempt to win multi-million dollar bid projects. After my husband graduated college we moved several hours from their main office. The company asked me to continue working remotely. I worked with the same team on each proposal and felt we had a well developed process.
This company recently had a change in ownership and as a result there was a shakeup in who I was working with. Each proposal became more of a team effort. The new collaborators came in with new fresh ideas (just like I did when I first started.) Instead of welcoming them and appreciating new insights, I got really defensive. One coworker, lets call her Mary, suggested doing something new so that the proposals didn’t all look the same. I was irritated. Having done this for nearly a decade, I felt pretty confident in my process and marketing approach. Keeping a similar feel to each proposal was part of the brand I was working to create. However, instead of explaining my strategy, I just was short tempered with suggested changes.
Fast forward a couple months, and we were coming to the end of a deadline. We were teleconferencing, and a last second suggestion to the background was made. I snapped. Like yelled at this coworker snapped.Over a green stripe. She handled it exceptionally well. I, on the other hand, felt ridiculous. Do you know what made it even worse? Her suggestion was GOOD!! They made the proposal look better. I had always been better at content than design, so why was I getting defensive over something that had always been a weak point for me?
Because I was insecure about my role in my new team. Before the ownership change, I had been told nobody could write the proposals like me. With the change I was worried that my proximity would be used against me and the people working at the main office would just naturally take over my position. So because I was insecure I didn’t listen to good ideas. Because I was insecure I yelled at the people around me. Because I was insecure I let emotion override my logic.
The lesson I learned that day was that insecurities can bring out the worst in us. The tricky part about insecurities is we often don’t identify them until we are forced to. When I acted so out of character I was forced to identify what my issue was. However, if, when we act out, we will exercise a little introspection, these situations can become real learning opportunities.
Today I am working on another proposal with the exact same team. Instead of waiting to feel frustrated when design changes are inevitable suggested, I asked Mary to be in charge of developing the template. Now I wont be irritated when my template isn’t “good enough.” I can use her design strengths to make the end product better, while also maintaining good working relationships.