In today's world, people are mainly interested in being right. In their faith, in their beliefs, in their views, in their opinions. And also in workplace. Imagine you have two people defending opposing views, not being able to accept any form of defeat. Just locked in infinite battle of who is right, never discovering the real truth.
Not listening makes it difficult to learn new things. Clients who do not listen are pain in the arse, managers who do not listen are pain in the arse. Pretty much anybody who does not listen is pain in the arse. However, how can you be sure you are the one who actually listens?
Asked for a favor
I was realy busy with my usual work when a friend of mine asked me to help him with something. It was not that big so I thought I could find some time for it. He started describing the problem via real time chat and we were slowly getting to the point of the task.
After a while I had to go offline. Since it was Friday evening we agreed on continuing discussion on Monday. I continued working on my own stuff during weekend (workaholism, yay!).
It was on Sunday when I suddenly had enough time to look into my friends issue. It would be helpful for him if I did it as fast as possible so I worked on it for a little while and sacrificed my Sunday evening to come up with solution.
Monday came and my friend was not satisfied. He started giving me more information about the tool which was contradicting the solution I came up with. I did not know why he decided to give me this information now and not before. He was like all the clients I dislike so much, withholding information until it is too late and you have to rework everything.
So I called him out on it as we were discussing the solution in his team. He did not provide all the information, he did not like some things on my solution so I asked his team why he does not like it. They were actually thrilled with my solution so he did not have much choice in the matter but to accept it.
Asking for a favor
Working on multiple projects at a time makes it extremely difficult to get anything done. I had a friend who asked me a for help once in a while so I decided it was my turn to ask for a favor.
I knew she was busy as hell, so I approached her carefully. I did not want to just unload all of the problems on her so I decided to have a chat with her instead of writing an email with tens of pages of proper description.
I started describing the problem to her and she said she can help me later on but has to go do something else now. So I agreed we will talk later.
I continued working on my own stuff even during weekend (workaholism, yay!) when I received a mail from her. She had apparently found some time to solve my problem and sent me her solution via mail. The problem was, this happened before I was able to explain the entire problem to her.
We agreed on another day of discussion and she proceeded to ignore this and just made her solution. And it was incomplete. So I gave her more information the day we agreed upon beforehand but her solution was already made so she would have to redo it.
She was not happy about it so she came to me and my team and started blaming me for not giving her all the information. For behaving like our clients. She got so defensive she did not even listen when I said I was not sure about some things that she just sent my team after me.
Calling me out in middle of my team for not being able to give proper information about problem and not liking the solution she provided. She pretty much put my team against me so there was little I could do to change things. Things that needed to be changed and still need to to this day.
Where lies the fault?
These two stories I just described are actually one. One story but from two different points of view. My friends point of view who was helping me and mine point of view as I wanted my friends help.
We both made some mistakes there. And we both have seen our truth in the whole matter. The question is, who was right?
I would say that no one was right. I should have described the entire problem to her via email as soon as possible and not wait for more discussion. If the mail would provide unclear description, my friend would see it and ask me how it truly is. While this way she did not see any issues because she was lacking the information altogether.
My friend could have actually waited for me to provide all the information as we agreed upon. It is awesome she decided to help me and even started working on the problem sooner than needed, but it caused a major issue. She lacked the information need to solve the real problem.
And even more painful part was that instead of talking to me about it, she started this discussion in my whole team. Dismantling me in front of my teammates and destroying the respect I gained from them.
It suddenly became way worse than just misunderstanding with the original problem. Now my team was involved and I was supposedly the bad guy who could not do anything properly. Even though not all the blame should fall to me.
Anger spawns anger
I was facing a decision. I could start blaming my friend and defending myself or I could let it slide for now. I decided to calm the situation down instead of starting an epic battle.
I was counting that the respect I had within my team would not be totally lost by this event. I also decided not to cause flame. I made some mistakes there. And I can learn from that.
My friend tried to help me, she tried to help me immediately as it became possible. And she did create a solution for me. But there were things that simply went wrong.
Instead of having a discussion about it, the entire action was moved to hurt me as much as possible. Undermine me. A turn of events both of us could have prevented. We have both failed in our own way.
Everybody makes mistakes. They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Do not ever think you are unable to be wrong. Do not ever think that good intentions can have only good outcomes. Do not ever start an argument based on emotions. And do not add more people into problem you have with one person. That should be settled between four eyes.
You thinking that you are right does not make you necessarily right. Realize your mistakes, learn from them. Become a better person, a better colleague, a better friend.