For the past month I’ve been consulting at a family-owned clothing company. The president of the firm, Rachel, asked me to coach her supply manager, a woman who is loyal to the company, is willing to put in long hours, and who has strong relationships with manufacturing plants in Mexico. The one thing she doesn’t have is people skills.
Betsy (name changed) treats her team with barely a trace of respect – she yells, slams doors, and habitually lies when it suits her. When I asked Rachel why she tolerated Betsy’s antics, she told me, “I need her. I don’t want to go through a search for her replacement.”
Last week I laid it all out for Betsy. She bristled and then declared, “Betsy is who Betsy is and there’s no changing her, do you know what I mean?” Yeah, I did — she meant she has no intention of changing! When I challenged her, she lamented, “I can’t change. This is who I am.”
That wasn’t the first time someone has boasted to me that they “can’t” change. However, please understand – that statement is simply not true. It’s a lie! We all have the ability to change. We all are responsible for how we present ourselves to other people and how we interact with them.
No one “just is.”
Which brings me to Ken. He and his fiancée Alice (names changed) are getting married at the end of the year and are in the process of interviewing officiants. Ken didn’t smile when we met and seemed uncomfortable when he sat down.
Alice was friendly and engaged (no pun intended) as we talked. Ken never looked at me, never offered an opinion, and answered my questions in a low, mumbling tone. Hey, there’s shy and then there’s creepy shy and Ken was creeping me out!
Something seemed “off” and finally I asked him directly if he was happy getting married. His head shot back, he nervously smiled, and said “of course!” I asked if anything was wrong, as he seemed unhappy or troubled. Alice gently smiled and explained, “Ken is reserved; that’s just how he is.”
Once again, there’s that phrase, “just is.” Here’s the thing – if you need your fiancée to explain that you’re reserved, then you’re more than “reserved”!
Just because a person is reserved doesn’t mean they have to present themselves in a rude, weird manner. Just because someone is loud and impatient, doesn’t mean they have to intimidate team members by screaming, slamming, and shutting down.
“Just is” is never an excuse for feeble, off-putting behavior! You don’t have to “just” be an a*hole. You can “just” be someone who strives to be a more dynamically alive person!
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