Something my ex-boss often did was volunteer my services to colleagues without consulting me first. Even though it annoyed me to no end, I rarely said no – my boss was a relative, but also, helping teachers meant I was indirectly helping the kids. One day though, a particularly demanding colleague came to me and instructed me to do something not work related, and I flipped.
Long story short, I used more curse words than actual English and even though my rant was not directed at this colleague, she was very offended and I was made to apologise.
This incident though is what prompted me to make more of a conscious effort to control my reactions… to try and temper my reaction in favour of a response.
Today I was asked by my new boss for some assistance in a disciplinary case with one of our learners…which led me to witnessing a very unpleasant differing of opinions between a few of my colleagues.
My natural tendency is to shoot from the lip (diplomacy be damned). But in the past decade of working in an industry where I have had to interact with people in the most uncomfortable and tense situations, I had to learn to pick my battles and how to communicate tactfully under distress or pressure.
I watched a colleague of mine today, who has been a teacher for close to forty years, who prides herself on her ability to communicate, who very rarely (if ever) resorts to profanity, speak to her superior in the most appalling way. She may not have been swearing, but her body language, tone and choice of words were combative and disrespectful. She cut everyone off mid-sentence and basically shouted when she felt that people were wrong for not sharing her point of view. I had to fight the urge to tell this woman to stop acting like a brat, and were it not for the fact that I was sitting beside my boss (who has not lost her composure once in the 12 years I’ve been working with her) I may have given in to that urge.
The unpleasantness I witnessed in the staffroom today was a perfect representation of the saying, “Rudeness is a weak person’s imitation of strength”… and reminded me of a few things: When things don’t break your way, remember that tantrums are only tolerated from toddlers (don’t throw your toys out of the cot); your tone conveys way more than your words; it is entirely possible to be rude without swearing; and it is entirely possible to have a difference of opinion without being an asshole.