Speaking from the land of construction where egos and the money stakes are high, gentleness isn’t the first thing to come to mind. Yet, is it really necessary to be aggressive (passively or not) to the point of getting YOUR way, breaking someone down or proving a point no matter what the industry?
After 16 plus years in my industry, I’m still not sure it is the right fit for me. The allure of what I studied loses its shiny sheen after you see the ugly side of the business. Also, from day one, I worried my personality wasn’t the right fit.
It was at my 2nd employer, I hadn’t been out of school but a little over a year, I was watching an executive run our $150 million project with an iron fist… He was very good and loyal to his team but to the people that we contracted and who we worked for he was a beast. The level of theatrics and aggressive attitude where something to see… not in a good way. His peers had mixed reviews about him, but one thing was certain – he was paid a great amount of money and made the company a great amount of money. I knew right away that if I needed to be like him I wasn’t going to make it.
15 years later, 7 bosses later, 1 testimony and multi-million dollars worth of settled claims later I’ve learned you don’t have to behave that way, thankfully.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. – Titus 3:1-2
Having had seven bosses, and witnessing numerous other executives and business owners, I’ve received the “opportunity” (yes, it is in quotes on purpose. I don’t consider having had seven bosses a good thing.) to observe a wide variety of management styles. The ones that I’ve always looked up to are the ones that manage quite a bit more calmly than the type-A managers.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1
I’ve been the fly on the wall for different scenarios where managers could shine. One that stands out is when I was witness to an employee who was struggling on a project. Whether or not he did something wrong I don’t know. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. What I witnessed was something so despicable I was sick when I saw it…. public shaming. A co-worker was shamed among his peers by his manager (who, coincidentally, was also an owner of the company).
Now, how one responds to this is equally as important. We’re talking about ego here… a person’s ego was shamed by someone. There probably were a few acceptable ways to handle the situation but I can attest that he did not respond anger for anger. His ego didn’t get the better of him. So what we didn’t get to see was the bad side of both people, but only of one. We saw the bad side of one who should have known better.
That loud beast that I worked for many years ago… I could have been shamed a few times by him. One incident stands out vividly. I had to count and purchase some turnstile poles for my project. It was not that hard of a task yet I had a brain lapse when I did it, and I only bought them for one building. There were 3 buildings! It was over a $10,000 mistake. I was mortified. I wanted to vomit. I thought I would get fired. I walked myself into his office and shut the door with my head hanging very low. I told him my error. He smiled and said it wasn’t that big of a deal (a $10,000 error on a $150 million dollar job really isn’t that big of a deal) and that I learned a valuable lesson. THAT guy… the one that had everyone on that project shaking in their boots showed me gentleness!?! Yes! Yes he did.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. – James 1:19-20
I think it is important, as children of the light, to show to the world how we can act in times of stress at the workplace. Work is messy. Yes, you will get frustrated. Yes, you will be wronged (rather, your EGO will be wronged). Yes, your understudy will mess up royally. Hold your head high and know that your reaction bears as much importance as anything else. Your actions/reactions bear more weight than your ego. You are setting examples for people beyond your understanding. Take those opportunities to shine your light.