Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mediation

Whenever I think of the work mediation, I imagine two bickering parties who cannot come to an understanding, compromise, or any level of negotiability. Most notably, for whatever reason, those who are in enduring battle of divorce come to mind, NOT me!

This Thursday, my boss, A. has decided we are doing a mediation of sorts with her dog business consultant (we both know her, though A. has worked with her extensively the last 3 or so years) who lives across the country in CA. I've been very hesitant about this since I do not feel like we need this. We do not fit this profile of two bickering parties or a couple once joyfully together on the brink of breakdown. Instead, we are two people who have known each other for awhile, though as friends, and are now adjusting to different roles. Whenever this happens, there is bound to be transition on both ends.

So I'm going to back up here for a moment as this all started exactly two weeks ago. Yes, I've been thinking about this post for awhile, trying to figure out how to write it without feeling like some sort of jerk. This all really began with a comment I made. This casual conversation was one we were having--just our normal talking. It started out about cleaning and just evolved from there.

A.: The "old A." is back.
Me: Oh.
A.: D. (husband) said he kind of liked the "new A." (she was referring to cleaning here but really my thinking is that it was more than just cleaning)
Me: Well, just be careful, okay. (this was said as a calm, cautionary note). Make sure to find balance between the old and new A.
A.: Well, what is wrong with the old A.?
Me: There isn't anything wrong with the old A., just that you need to find the balance, that's all--make sure you are enjoying life, know that if something doesn't work out, it won't be the end of the world, etc.
A.: Well, I know that. I just don't understand what was wrong with the old A.
Me: I can't explain it exactly.

That was the catalyst for all this. After that, I had the whole being called in the "principal's office scenario." The closest thing to this type of scenario I ever was once being questioned by what felt like an Inquisition by my former boss. It is certainly not a feeling I like.

A. wanted to say what I was feeling, basically spilling out my grievances. We went over schedules -I insisted on an 1 1/2 lunch (this was the only thing I wanted, especially as I work some 10+ hour days), being a little more prompt on time (I said I could do this and have), employer/employee relationship (she said how she really couldn't treat me differently, though there are only 2 employees and our jobs are very different), a few things that I felt a bit insulted by (I suggested she just needed to give a brief explanation for her reasoning). I also said a few personal things in that yes, I do tend to get a little miffed at something at first on some things, but easily get over it in a day or so (I'm the type that forgives but doesn't necessarily forget. This doesn't mean I hold a grudge but just that I do keep a note in my head), that most times I only need to be told something one time, then I know it, and that sometimes it was difficult for me not to compare her to my former boss (we both know her) since there were some things she did that was similar and other things that were not. A.'s reply to this last comment was that 1) she was not like my former boss and 2) most dog trainers are controlling, so she and my boss would have to be in this business. At the end of our meeting, she said she felt better. I felt okay, but it really made me think further about how I've changed in some ways.

When A. and I had this meeting, her first comment out of her mouth was "I was born wanting to be the best at everything." This got to me a lot, because damn, I was the same way for many, many years. And I know in the end, that type of thinking can ruin you. I know it does not for everyone, but it can with our similar histories (she had Anorexia in high school--recovered through I'd say a modified Maudsley approach) I'd say the big difference between us is that my perfectionism of sorts was solely internal based, whereas hers has been both internal and external/environmental based, meaning that she wants others around her to be too.

To me, it seems that her AN was replaced with wanting to be the best at work or her dogs (she used to be very hard, controlling on her dogs) or cleaning or at whatever. And with this new facility, she wants it to be the premiere dog place around here. There's of course nothing wrong with that, and it is definitely an aspiring goal to get to--one in fact that I think could get there in the next few years. But I'm not thinking so much about that as in getting ourselves established and out there without spreading ourselves too thin (example-too many events to work on in a short period of time).

I guess what this boils down to is that A.'s thoughts and actions remind me so much of ED filled days that I no longer want to be a part of that. My Ed filled days were black and white with hardly any gray in between. It's taken me a long time to find some sort of middle ground, to be able to relax a bit, have a little more of a life, actually enjoy it more. I came here partly for more opportunity but mostly for change. In my old environment, it was definitely chaotic with my former boss. Our relationship was very complicated and that wrecked havoc on me, and part of my ED was manifested by this.

This is not to say that I've become some complete slacker. I'm still perfectionistic no doubt and still have to fight being less so. However, the difference is that it's not quite as meaningful as it once was. I'm able to let go a bit more, be open to more things, not feel too upset if I don't get something done that day, etc.

This post is not to knock A. at all. She's a great person with a lot of knowledge, and we're just going through a rough patch right now, though the last week has been better (at least she's talking to me like normal than just saying what needs to be done). I know A., herself, has come a long way in how she sees things. I've told her that I know she has had a lot going on, has had a lot of transitions to deal with, and is always evolving as a person. For example, in her earlier years, she invested in the attitude "it's my way or the highway," so the fact that yes, she did hear me out some, I commend her for this. However, I still do not think we really need this mediation. But, being the good natured person I am, I said if she felt she needed this, then I was fine with that.

I know A. expects me to be as honest as possible, but I'm slightly leary about that. As my mom says, "Self preservation is the most important thing!" Things said can truly come back and bite you in the ass! So, I'm nervous about this whole mediation thing and have to come up with two lists of what is working and what is not working. I know logically I should look at this proactively, but it's the connotation of "mediation." that somehow makes me feel like I am disagreeable, cannot come to compromises, etc. which is so untrue. I guess ironically it makes me feel like the "un-perfect" person. :sigh:

Has anyone else had to deal with business mediations or have any wonderful words of wisdom?

2 comments:

Sarah said...

I haven't dealt with a business mediation, but I was nodding in agreement along with your thoughts on wanting to be done with perfectionism. I understand that 100%! I used to want to do a Ph.D. program and now I see it as a highly probable return to my old way of thinking of being THE BEST and doing MY BEST and doing my best at everything I'm involved in (classwork, research, social life, home life...) to be honest, I'm just not interested. That way of life seems so foreign and disordered to me now. So, I think it's very important that you cling to your newly developed healthy ideas as you go through this process. If you seem confident in your approach to life in the meeting (instead of apologizing for it,) you will be a lot more likely to get what you want. If you go in hesitant or feeling guilty for your approach to life, then you will be taken advantage of and your desire to please will make you agree to things you don't want. Does that make sense? So my best suggestion is to re-read this post and maybe to write down a few things that are MOST important to you in this scenario. Take those into the meeting with you (even if they're just in your pocket) and before you agree to anything and end the mediation, make sure you review the list and are getting what you want. You have compromised a lot for this position already and I don't want you to get taken advantage of any more!

Tiptoe said...

Sarah, thanks so much for responding. You're the best! I did jot down a few ideas.

Overall, it went okay, not as bad as I expected so that is good. See next post for more details.