Recently, I was embroiled in complex (aren’t they all?) and deeply rooted conflict at the workplace. Excepting familial conflict, there are few more disheartening and frustrating dilemmas than conflict at the place. It is where we spend the second largest part of our lives, time, and investment of energy and passion.
After nearly three and a half months of falsely playing nice in staff meetings and cordial in the hallways, out once rock-steady, trusting, and respectful relationship was at an all-time low. Admittedly, it was not the most desirous thing I wanted to do, but walked into my colleague’s classroom to share a resource. I was greeted with her wide, bright smile and in that split second I thought “Oh hell, boy, just go for it” and inquired how she was doing today. She shared her emergent teenager issues, and as I nodded in agreement a smile, too, came across my face. I felt an existential clunk as my armour dropped to the floor. I found myself seated across from her intimately sharing my current teenager status (oh, the melodrama). (Note: Both of us know quite about each other’s family status from years as colleagues and peers and so this was not as awkward as the reader may find it).
I resolve to work with my colleagues to succeed in producing the good rather than failing to produce the perfect.
It was beautiful. We both laughed. Then we both cried. And we ended what was an awkward and lost connection with a hug and smile. A first step towards renewal.
Could you say that our conflict is wholly resolved? It is not. But the shared experience was what brought us together to simply share space. Share a moment. Begin our re-connection, of sorts.
My learning from this? Connection above all else. Always. People first. Everything else is secondary. Caught up in my little world of justification and navel-gazing, I am reminded of what really matters to me and to her. And I suppose what really makes this true is that the other desires the same. We have re-established a relationship from which to rebuild our professional one.