In my previous blog, I wrote about becoming a better manager thanks to my experience with Rachel, a lovely lady with whom I had previously worked.
I had been controlling in my working relationship with Rachel. This was an undesirable trait I had recognised only after experiencing a controlling manager myself, when I later worked at a dental supply company with a very nice but over-bearing boss.
I left this position after only a few short months due to my diminishing self-esteem. Luckily for me, I could have my old job back. However I would need to change my controlling ways. I did not like the fact that I had a negative impact on Rachel, and I was committed to change.
Rachel showed great generosity of spirit to agree to work together again. She had been suffering silently under my micro-management style and it would have been tempting and easy for her to block my return.
Thankfully, Rachel agreed to not only have me back, but to help me change my behaviour.
Our plan involved two primary focuses:
- Mindfulness. I would be consciously aware of how I was communicating, ensuring I was patient and respectful. I would also be mindful about what I was asking of Rachel. Was it something that would actually improve a process, or was I simply wanting Rachel to do something my way?
- Safe Prompting. Rachel would let me know when she felt I was micro-managing or being controlling so I could recognise when this was happening, and modify my behaviour.
Rachel and I were both keenly aware of the importance of TRUST. Our plan would have failed quickly if I made Rachel emotionally ‘pay’ in any way when she pulled me up on negative behaviour. I made sure I welcomed her comments with a smile and a show of gratitude. Our plan would also have quickly failed had Rachel become petty and pulled me up over minor or frivolous actions. Because I had made her feel bad in the past, I would have forgiven her if she took advantage of my new vulnerability for a chance at some ‘pay back’.
Rachel and I developed a close and trusting relationship over the following months and years. It grew because of our willingness to be vulnerable and our desire to care for one another.
This experience showed me that trust is something that is easily developed, as long as the intention is set and the effort consistent. The result is a relationship that is safe and supportive but also tolerant and forgiving.
The cultivation of caring connections is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of my working life.