I tend not to think of myself overly burdened by the vices of arrogance and selfishness. Now I must admit that I have a fine opinion of myself. I filled out a profile for work (I’m featured this week in the ministry newsletter/intranet). In it I said, “I always just wanted to be cool, but I had to settle for awesome.” My co-workers were tickled by that bon mot and have offered to get t-shirts made.
Still, occasional bouts of hyperbole aside, I like to think of myself more as self-deprecating. I rarely think I’m the best person in the room – often I have doubts even in solitude as to that score. Still it might just be that my own doubts and humour simply hide an ego the size of the Orion Nebula from even myself.
One item I do pride myself on is my ability to communicate. It always comes as a complete surprise to me when it turns out that I’ve fumbled it entirely. Most often it happens when I try to joke, but that isn’t the only time.
Once I caused a co-worker to cry by failing to respond to their repeated requests for aid. Truly I was engaged in more urgent matters, but I could have taken the time to respond to their inquiries with an, “I’ll be by to help as soon as I can.” Lesson learned there – that was likely the second worst day I’ve ever had on the job. (Although I now find myself unable to leave an e-mail go unanswered which my peer tell me is just crazy foolishness).
On several other occasions, I found that co-workers in remote locations felt excluded from my decisions. I have been pretty good at telling my team what is going on – water cooler talk, walk-bys in the hall and formal meetings. But picking up a telephone to talk to someone a few hundred klicks away? I’m still learning to do better at that.
But normally I screw up trying to use humour. I seem to take a weighty situation too lightly. I seem disrespectful of others dreams and fears. I say seem, because I think it most often just thoughtlessness. Not that that is much better than disrespect.
And sometimes I say something ironically and it is taken at face value. And sometimes an honest statement is taken ironically. I’m not good at it. When I try and make a quip it comes out as a barb. Hopefully I’m better in long form than short.
Sigh. It hurts to have my best tools pain me, but even more when I discover that they have given wound where none was intended. And thus is revealed my own particular hubris.
To quote Puck:
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
But unlike the little goblin, I am in no way being sarcastic…