Responding to Gossip

‘The Good Wife’ Campaigns

Political campaigns often follow a predictable path:

  1. Candidates announce that they will focus on positive ideas.
  2. Soon after, they bring out the attack ads.

figure the good wife alicia frankEven though political researchers advise negative campaigning, Alicia Florrick, The Good Wife, wants to avoid mudslinging. But she feels guarded when Frank Prady contacts her for a commitment to run a positive campaign; he asserts an agreement between two candidates is more solid than promises in the media.

figure the good wife alicia frankOne week later, Frank has broken his promise. Alicia challenges Frank and he pleads innocence, but then expresses reluctance to retract his message. Alicia’s response is classic, “Ah, are we not friends anymore, Frank?” Will Alicia stoop to his levels and allow her campaign manager to release the negative advertising? Does she have a choice?

Workplace Campaigns

Frank—not his real name—assigned me to support a computer application, that he had developed, for 500 users.

  1. I could not work with the application.
  2. He was too busy to help.
  3. He repeatedly declared that I was too stupid for the job.
  4. Months later, another developer demonstrated that the application was completely broken.
  5. Frank refused to acknowledge his mistake.

I might have easily repeated Alicia’s question, “Ah, are we not friends anymore, Frank?”

Frank continued to spread malicious gossip about me for more than a year, until he finally left the organization. At one point, a manager coached me to fight back by spreading factual gossip about Frank. I hated everything about that fight for my livelihood and am relieved that British Columbia has implemented Anti-Bullying Legislation. I’ll never know why Frank did what he did, but I am certain that neither of us won.

In Closing

This story happened a long time ago. I went on to celebrate many successes with that organization and I eventually left because I was ready to pursue my own interests. I hope that Frank is well.

Have you ever felt forced to respond to gossip? What happened? Would you change your response now?

Everyone Has a Story

‘House’ Rules …

figure House Everybody LiesOne of my favourite sayings is, “Everyone has a story.” I started to intone it in response to the popular House credo. What did House mean when he said, “Everybody lies”? Do you agree with the following explanations? Will you add to my list?

  • You seek something from me or someone I know.
  • You want to save face or help me to save face.
  • You forget and need to gather your memory.

figure House Oops“You’re lying!” The accusation focuses on the negative. It shuts down conversation. How do you continue an open conversation after that? That said, I will admit that I have met one or two people, with whom continued conversation seemed pointless.

… May Not Apply

“Everyone has a story.” The statement allows me to keep asking questions.

  • I may discover that we seek the same goal.
  • I do not win by making you look bad.
  • I sometimes forget too.

Our internal narrative explains our intents and actions to ourselves. It affects our ability to interact with those around. Engaging with our stories informs me how to align with my environment. Learning your story helps me to relate. In this new blog, I will ask how we tell our stories.

Everyone has a story. What is yours?

The Blank Slate

figure netbook notebook blankHaving sat down on my birthday—yesterday—to begin this blog, I photographed my blank blog and my blank notepad to mark another beginning. The blank notepad—a birthday present—had sat for several years on my bookshelf asking, “Are you a writer?”

I wasn’t. Oh, I wrote—a lot—as a business analyst. I even wrote—infrequently—for pleasure. But the blank slate frightened me a little. As my muse struggled to surface, I feared, “I have nothing to write.”

figure joy long children playingI reflect on the first painting that I bought, as a young man in the eighties. While I spoke with Joy Zemel Long, during her exhibit of orange crate paintings on the lawn overlooking Stanley Park Garden, she described how children approach playing as a blank slate. She captured my imagination and for years I’ve thought, “I wish I could be a writer.”

Last summer, I registered to study Technical Writing at BCIT. I will publish five more posts by Friday for one of my assignments and expect to continue publishing a weekly blog for my art. I am having the time of my life and I think, “I might be a writer.”

I look forward to this festive season of parties and meeting new people. When they ask about me, I will answer, “I am a writer.”