Have you ever choked up in a conversation or felt tears streaming down your face in while talking about something personal? I have. In fact, I used to feel embarrassed and annoyed that the more I wanted the stop the tears, the more freely they seemed to flow. In those moments, I have felt vulnerable, self-conscious, weak, and frustrated and that somehow it meant I didn’t have it all together. I was wrong.
With this “everyone gets a trophy” generation, I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes struggle with feeling empathy for some people who describe their lives as “hard.” Growing up without both parents, I believed my life was hard since I had to learn very early how to be independent and to look out for myself. As a result, I do not have a lot of patience for anyone I perceive as lazy, entitled, and expect things to go their way. This is primarily because my perspective of a hard life is very different from their view of a “hard life”.
Each of us have experienced tough times or situations that have made us feel uncertain and unsafe. So, whether it was poverty, loneliness, loss of employment or income, death of a loved one, a life-threatening diagnosis or some other life changing event, we have all had to overcome something, we have all had to be resilient.
For me, the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme is great illustration of what happens when trust is violated or broken. Whether the relationship is personal or professional, things fall apart when promises are broken, commitments are not honored, lies are told, information is withheld, confidence is betrayed and people or their actions are willfully misrepresented by others. Regardless of the circumstance, the results of broken trust are division, doubt, fear, insecurity, hurt, bitterness, stress, resentment and unhealthy interactions or relationships.
Truth is, the quality of our interactions and relationships are based on the degree to which we feel we can place our confidence in others. Supervisors who do not trust their teams are more likely to micromanage. People who do not trust their partners are more likely to be insecure, question their every move or sneak around trying to get information. If you do not trust a product or service, you are unlikely to buy it. And business that operate in low trust environments, spend way more money on security to protect their assets and customers. Fact is- trust affects everything -who we chose to be in relationship with, where we look for for help, who we confide in, who we do business with, where we spend/save our money, the products we consume and even the jobs we leave or take.
So, think about the last decision you made or problem you had to solve? How did you go about it? Did you gather the information and objectively look at the pros and cons? Did you ask questions to get additional information? Did you verify the source of the information you were basing your decision on or did you just go on the basis on your gut feeling or what a friend or family member told you? Making assumptions, jumping to conclusions, reacting emotionally and not being able to distinguish between facts or fake news are obvious indicators that you might not be thinking critically about a particular situation, individual or issue.
If you have ever listened to a successful person speak about their achievements or journey towards their biggest moment, whether it was an athlete, actor, entrepreneur or professional, the one thing you would probably hear them mention is the importance of being and staying motivated. You probably would also hear their stories of overcoming adversity, setbacks, the pain of failure, mistakes and even their struggles with self-doubt. You would hear them speak about pushing through the obstacles to remain committed and focused on that dream or goal that they set for themselves.
Recently, I checked on him to see how things were going. I was hoping for progress but from what I heard, not much had changed. He seemed to have a problem for every solution I tried to help him with and could hardly commit to taking much needed action to help himself. The conversation left me tired and frustrated.
Her feedback certainly explained why- despite my best efforts I was not having the impact I wanted and was not working effectively with those members of the team. The feedback left me feeling confused and frustrated. How could my strengths- self-confidence, outgoing personality and assertiveness show up as a weakness? Her feedback had revealed a blind spot and I knew then that I would need to do some things differently.
However, I have also worked in environments where, I have had a coworker who looks like me say “I don’t like you all (meaning immigrants)” and accuse me of receiving preferential treatment (due to Caribbean heritage) as compared to other black women. I have even had another woman who does not look like me say “your energy is shutting me down”.