Friday, June 08, 2007

the inevitable has happened

Well, I guess it was going to happen sooner or later.
I've been on staff with Genesis for about 5 months now, and today I had my first fight with a co-worker.

It was over something simple, really. Something I needed this co-worker to do for me. I explained everything as best I could, but my co-worker kept doing things wrong. No matter how many different ways I tried to explain myself, he just didn't seem to get what I was saying. To his credit, he was trying as best he could to take the information I gave him and create a finished project that would satisfy me. But he just wasn't getting it right.

Finally, at the peak of my frustration, I walked into the room where he was working and stated (rather loudly) "I don't like you at all right now!". Despite my scathing words, he continued working, trying his best to make me happy.

As his motor turned and wheels spun, I checked the paper tray one more time.
Nope still not right.
Our new copier simply wouldn't do what I asked him to.

Then... finally... after 20 minutes spent trying different combinations of print and paper set-ups, I found the problem. I hadn't told my co-worker that I was printing *up* from a 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 sheet of paper to a standard 8 1/2 x ll. That was all I needed to do. And as soon as I did it, everything printed perfectly. I quickly expressed my sincere and humble apologies to my co-worker; thankful that he was - in fact - a machine and not a person.

But the experience got me thinking about the ways that I *do* communicate with people, and the eerie similarities between the frustrations I'd just experienced. So often, I try my best to express myself. I try to be clear about what I want, need, or feel about a certain situation. I think I'm being clear (*I* know what I'm saying... the other person should to) only to find out the other person's interpretation (what comes out on the paper tray) is completely different.

Often, just like my copier experience, the solution is simple. It just takes one "selection" - one phrase worded differently, one tone-of-voice softened slightly - and everything comes out just right.

But I wonder how many of those "just right" moments I miss because I'm not as tenacious with people as I am with machinery. I'm determined not to let a copier get the best of me. I'm determined to make myself heard, and heard clearly. But in my relationships with people, I don't fight nearly as hard when I'm misunderstood. Even if the misunderstanding leads to hurt feelings.

So, Mr. Minolta reminded me of something important today:
Effective communication is all about trial and error, and being willing to try until things come out right.


Blogger librespondent said...

Or as a famous Russian writer has said, "If you do not understand my writing, I fall down on my knees and beg your forgiveness because it is entirely my fault."

6:33 PM  

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