Tracy sat down in my office. I could tell that she was anxious, but I didn’t know why. “I want to talk about what happened yesterday,” she said. My ears turned hot as I thought back to yesterday’s lunch interview. “Oh, God. I just want to forget about that,” I replied. She looked confused and asked me to explain.
I had been in my new position for several months, just long enough to understand how far over my head I really was. I took the position after a resignation and months of failed searches, but I did not know what I was getting into. I was learning on the job as fast as I knew how, but I feared that it wasn’t enough. I prayed daily for wisdom, stamina, and the clarity to find my way through.
On this particular day, I was running from meeting to meeting, feeling underprepared and overwhelmed. When I finally arrived at the lunch meeting, I stumbled into the room, late and winded from running across the building. I felt like an imposter. I was questioning my choices, my abilities, and my future. Because I was late, I was seated next to the candidate. This arrangement led to my being the first one to ask a question. He was in his interview suit and in all honestly, I did not really understand his potential job. I blurted out words that I hoped were coherent and prayed that the day would end.
Tracy’s face softened as she listened to me recount the incident. “So, you didn’t mean to throw me under the bus?” I didn’t know what she was talking about. She then recounted the interaction from her perspective. My question implied that her office had not been able to provide the kind of information and support I needed. She had been stunned that I would make such a public spectacle of her work when she, and her staff, were providing support every day. Tears stung my eyes as I realized how that looked from her perspective. I didn’t mean that at all, and hadn’t noticed her response because I was too mired in my own thoughts and emotions.
This conversation saved our relationship, and allowed us to move from colleagues to friends. She came to me with her concerns and instead of lashing out, she listened. She too was just starting in a new position and understood my challenges and limitations. I asked for her forgiveness and reassured her of my respect and gratitude for her support. She offered words of comfort and encouragement. We walked away with new trust and a renewed commitment to work together to impact our little corner of the world.
I am so grateful for honest confrontations, for the ability to tell the truth about your thoughts, emotions, and experiences. I am also grateful for a listening heart. One that leans in to understand and to really see. Learning how to tell the truth, even when it is hard, can be the beginning of beautiful friendships.