“Shoot the hostage, take her out of the equation”
The names and places of this event have been changed to protect the individuals involved. This is loosely based on true events.
Patricia is Samantha’s new boss. Patricia is younger than Samantha, but well qualified to be the boss, this does not bother Samantha, at all. During her second day at work, still new to the company’s procedures, Samantha asked a question of Patricia. Patricia laughed, trying to be light hearted about the question, but in fact, never answered the question, and laughing at Samantha made her feel very small and insignificant. Now, Samantha is a bright girl, this new job is an excellent career move for her ultimate goals, and she is frustrated and confused by the sarcasm and apparent belittling Patricia has left with her. So, Samantha writes Patricia a letter. This letter expresses her frustrations and her expectations and her feelings. In return, Patricia responds with a letter apologizing. Patricia explains clearly what her intentions were when answering the question Samantha had asked, and also said she was glad Samantha had even bothered to ask! She was so pleased that Samantha was assertive enough to ask her question. However, Patricia also said it wasn’t her job to walk Samantha through every little step, which clearly was not Samantha’s question, and Patricia also said she would help Samantha move to a different department if she thought it would help.
After careful consideration, Samantha decided to stay put, after all the career goal is still the same, the path getting there just may be a bit rockier than anticipated.
A week goes by. Samantha is doing her job, but has not seen Patricia. Patricia is doing her job, but has not seen Samantha. It is not necessary for them to see one another, but once a week. At the department meeting, all employees, including Samantha, attend and everyone fills everyone else in about their work-stuff. Meeting adjourned. As Samantha is leaving, Patricia asks her politely if she can stay a few minutes, Samantha agrees.
Patricia loses her office meeting smile and stares Samantha in the eyes and begins a speech about the letter Samantha wrote. Samantha is confused, it’d been a week, she didn’t know there were any issues, but is willing to listen to Patricia, of course. Patricia quotes Samantha’s words, and tries to name the contradictions, and concludes with saying Samantha needed to show more respect to her boss, give her the benefit of the doubt, because if Samantha doesn’t like her job, she can just go and get a different one. Patricia is disgusted that Samantha wrote a letter, instead of talking to her face to face.
Samantha was confused, but not necessarily frustrated.
Samantha begins to respond saying it was never her intention to contradict herself, that she doesn’t want to leave her job, she felt like it the only other option. An option which would, inevitably, set her back perhaps even years from her career goal. So, she believed the only option, was to stay and find a way to make it work. As Samantha began to explain this, Patricia constantly interrupted her until Samantha stopped and with a little sarcasm herself said “do you not want me to respond? because you’re being very defensive.” To which Patricia replied “I’m not being defensive!” Samantha stared and took that in for only a moment, then opened her mouth and said “Interrupting me, a defense tactic.” Then there was silence, and Samantha could feel the cold on Patricia face. The “blank” expression with so much behind it, yet no words followed suit. Samantha then said “Is there anything else you need to say? Because, I’m ready and willing to listen, but its’ clear you don’t want to hear what I have to say. It’s confusing, because I already agreed with you.” and although she meant every word, she, still, also meant you’re taking this personally, and it’s not – and, sometimes people think talking in person is too confrontational, how was I supposed to know your preference?
Samantha thought in that moment what Patricia wanted was an apology.
Now that would require true thinking on Samantha’s part. Most of her life she did not apologize for her feelings or words. And not because she was bound and determined to stand by them and be “right” as it were, but because apologizing, to her, meant not meaning who she was in the moment “it” all happened. Apologizing also meant never doing it again, which she could not guarantee to anyone, not even herself.
Patricia only stared and then said “have a good day,” and walked out of the room.
For the rest of her work day, and for the better part of the evening Samantha pondered what she could have done differently. If she was so sure of her intention, and didn’t get what she wanted, should she try another tactic? Was she even sure that she still wanted the same thing? How important is tone in a letter?
Well, Samantha eventually came to the conclusion that perhaps she did do wrong in writing the letter, instead of approaching Patricia in person. However, her experience in being heard by the other person when something like this happens, proves…sour..as far as results go. Nonetheless Samantha sat down to write another letter to Patricia in hopes to clear the air, as it were, however, Samantha wanted to make sure her argument was valid so she wrote a couple drafts to make sure she was stating facts, and not her feelings – it was the only way she knew to take the conversation logically.
What might the letter have said in order for Samantha to be logical and clear about the whole ordeal?
Was Samantha right to write the letter(s)?
Was Patricia right in her response, and how she approached it?
What can be expected for the days at work to come?