The discussion in the meeting had wrapped up and everyone sitting around the table was in bi and trilateral conversations, often across the other’s line of sight. Initially it was not planned or intentionally rude, but the unintended consequence was an offense to words in one conversation that were taken in another.
“How could you say that?”
“That some throw the analysts under the bus.”
“But it is true.”
“Maybe, but I do not.”
“I did not say you did.”
“You just did!”
The realization that my words had be used in two conversations at the same time felt strange. In one, I was engaged, bantering, and progressing a discussion. Concurrently in another, the same words had created confusion and potential harm.
With an appropriate pause to consider what had just happened, the series of apologies included the following.
I am sorry…
“…I responded with the intensity that I did.”
“…I talked across your conversation.”
“…I may have caused harm to your relationship with another.”
“…I came across as not thinking or caring.”
“…I rushed to judgement.”
As we talked of lessons learned, shared ideas emerged and were embraced. Questions of clarity would always precede positions of difference. The goal is to make sure we are on different pages before we say that we disagree or criticize.
I anticipate we will have more bumps in our conversations. It is natural with any two or more that have diverse backgrounds and perspectives. I am confident that we have a foundation to build on. The agreement felt like we were both listening to the psalmist and putting his words into practice; “Deflect the harsh words of my critics – but what you say is always so good.” (Psalm 119.39)
I know that one agreement does not guarantee perfect performance, from either party. The great news is that we now share a foundation of intent and purpose. It is something we can build on. It is a reference point from which much is possible. The dependency is his choice as well as my own.
I am hopeful.