I just witnessed a beautiful thing.
At my local coffee shop, I’ve noticed that it is a place that mentors often meet with their high school mentees, that business transactions are taking place, study is getting done, reading, talking, sharing, sipping. It is great. We have long tables with electric plugs that come down from the ceiling. It is shared space.
I came in today, and did a quick assessment for where I should sit. You know, getting that right ratio of human to empty space. Easy, I would ask the young person at the end of a long table if I could share space.
See what I saw: small, skinny, dark hair, ah-yes…female, black clothes, face deep into their phone. When I asked to share, she looked up and with a very friendly tone said “Yep, sure!”. Great. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Just as I was doing my complex set up (laptop, stand on chair to bring down the hanging outlet, get my charger out and hooked up, put coffee on napkin just so, phone to the left of the laptop) an adult Woman came in. She went right to the seat across from my table mate.
Oh, ok. A private convo in public. So I added “get earbuds out” to my set up list.
But in close quarters, even earbuds do not block the noise. It does provide a polite barrier from blatant public listening. I heard it all.
The Young Woman, spoke fast and clear about an altercation with a coworker. She was full of energy, a bit of anger, but I was very impressed by her telling that kept to the facts. She did not blame anyone else. She did not play the victim. She was clear about who was involved and who was not. She corrected herself once when the Woman asked for clarity.
The Women asked short, clear questions. The Young Woman answered in clear responses.
The adult asked about witnesses, statements, corroboration etc.
In the end, the Woman said “Thank you for telling me your side of the story. I’m sorry this happened. You were let go because you became physical in the altercation. HR is clear about that. I can’t take you back.” The Young Woman responded. “I know. I understand. Thank you. “ The adult Woman left, and the Young Woman typed into her phone then she left, too.
Why am I telling you this story? Because I was so proud of both of them.
I was so proud of the adult Woman who kept her role clear, supportive, present, warm, engaged, mature, serious, undramatic. Her energy was receptive and deep for listening. When it was time for her to make her final statement. She made it simply and clearly.
I was so proud of the Young Woman. She told the story she had to tell, and accepted the outcome as it was simply told.
How do you show up?
Do you show up in public when in turmoil full of drama and blame? Why do you think that is?
Do you show up in public after being fired with venom toward “the man”? Who are you really angry with?
Do you show up with friends or self with a full blown story of “their fault” or do you recognize that you had a role too? Do you understand that the other person has a whole life that is happening unrelated to you?
Do you understand your role?
Do you cower in self hatred? What is at the root of that behavior?
Do you know how to express yourself with equanimity, even if you are full of energy?
That conversation I witnessed was not easy for them, or for me. My compassion radar was on full ping. I kept myself from being triggered by my own stories of being in either role, and injustice done to me or that I had to hand out. The Young Woman was the only one who got fired because she responded physically to an aggressive situation toward her. Once again, the bully keeps the job, while the one doing self defense pays for it all.
But we all do pay for it all. Even the bully. Even HR. Even bystanders who are listening in. Just in different, more subtle ways, chipping away at our integrity, self-esteem, sense of power.
Are you showing up the way you want to? Let’s work together on that. I hold my clients accountable with loving kindness, and compassion. I’m not your punisher. I am your encourager so that you can be who you truly are.
Showing up for you,