Every so often, I enter into a situation where I’m unsure of myself. I encountered this just last week. The organizers and panelists on a large Zoom call had created working agreements. We spoke according to those agreements. And we knew that a couple of people were going to join late, an hour into the two-hour session.
When they joined the call, one of them violated those agreements. Did they even know about our agreements? Who knows?
I became angry as I saw what had been a collegial discussion aimed at the future dissolve into one person’s reminiscing of the past.
I should tell you—I rarely like participating in large panel discussions about anything. That’s because, in my experience, too many people see these panels as a way to hawk their wares. Not to explore potential or disagree collegially, but to sell their consulting or books.
That selfishness angers me. Our job as panelists is to engage people and provoke a few thoughts. (If we do a great job, we sell ourselves and our books.)
Right then and there, I decided to be true to myself:
- Did I want to fit into this situation and make the best of it? No.
- Could I stay here and not show my anger? No.
- Given the time constraints and the facilitators’ inability to manage this person, what did I want to do? I decided to leave.
That’s what I did. I wished everyone a great conversation and left the Zoom.
I couldn’t be true to myself and tolerate the late panelist’s behavior.
Similarly, I don’t tolerate “jokes” that discuss someone’s gender, race, politics, or anything else that offends, masquerading as humor.
How Can You Be True to Yourself?
I wish I could tell you I know how to be true to myself all the time. Nope. Not at all. I often discover when I need to be true to myself when I feel emotionally off-balance. That’s when I realize I’m asking these questions:
- How can I fit into this situation?
- Do I need to recalibrate my expectations of myself?
- What outcomes do I now expect from this experience?
You might have other questions when you feel that pull of not being true to yourself.
My anger shows up in various ways. Often—too often—I become nasty. Then, my extrovert-ness takes over. Normally, I can think before I talk. When I’m angry? My barely-there filter evaporates. The nastiness pours out of my brain before I have a chance to stop it.
While my nasty streak is part of me, I prefer to suppress that nastiness as much as possible. That means I need to act to change the situation. I need to create more choices. That’s why I decided to leave the call.
Could I tolerate his behavior? Maybe. However, I decided to be true to my beliefs and expectations.
In the past, I would have tried to shoulder the facilitators’ responsibilities. Not anymore. I am responsible for my actions and words—not anyone else’s.
I have worked hard to learn how to be true to myself, even in situations where I might help others.
That’s because I have learned I need to take care of myself before taking care of others.
I hope the questions above fit for you. If not, which questions do you ask when you want to be true to yourself, and you feel conflict? Let me know.
You might enjoy some of my online workshops:
- I’m happy to announce the 2021 Consulting Workshop. See Advise, Influence, and Serve Clients for Mutual Profit: (Re)Start Your Consulting Practice. It starts in March 2021. If you’re interested, let me know.
- I also opened the Q2 2021 writing workshop. See Writing Workshop 1.
- With Mark Kilby are at Distributed Agile Success. We released Rapidly-Remote, a free self-study course for people who are new to remote working.
- Mark and I released a self-paced hiring workshop: How to Discover, Interview, and Hire Amazing Remote People.
And, the big announcement: The Modern Management Made Easy books are done and out everywhere. Yay!
Read More of Create an Adaptable Life
If you only read the newsletter, I hope you also read the blog where I write a question of the week each week. Here are other links you might find useful:
Till next time, Johanna
© 2021 Johanna Rothman
P.S. Up until now, I’ve put the newsletters only into the newsletter posts. I’m changing that. I’m still emailing the newsletter. However, I’m also putting the newsletters into regular posts on the blog.