I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day, and she asked me how my work was going. I launched into a mini-tirade (ok, maybe not so mini) about how some particular I work with didn’t treat me fairly, in my opinion. Here’s a little synopsis: The first person had questions as to why he needed to do something I requested. I explained that it was what I was taught was necessary, but I would be happy to get more clarity for him. He instead went to several others in his organization to say why he shouldn’t have to do it, and they escalated it to my management, including my boss and HER boss. The answer came back from someone in my department that I was indeed correct.
I was mad because if he had just asked me to get the clarity (as I offered), I could have provided the answer (after checking with the same person in my department that gave them their answer). None of the other people had to be involved, and the turnaround could have been a lot faster. I felt slighted and also that my competency was being called into question. I wanted to contact two individuals directly to let them know how I felt. My mom said, why? Will they really care? And that provided me with a teaching moment. I told her, not only could I get my point across to them in a professional, non-confrontational manner, but that the only person I cared about in this scenario was ME. I can’t control how others will receive it, but I know I will feel 100% better if I say my piece.
So I crafted an email in the morning-BUT I DIDN’T SEND IT. I let my words and feelings rest a little. Then I revisited my unsent email after lunch and made a few tweaks. The result was the following:
“X forwarded to me the email response she sent you regarding the ABC. I am glad you were able to get the answer you needed. In the future, I hope you will give me the opportunity to find out the answers for you—not only will this help me learn about the issue at hand, but also help me provide better service to you in the future. However, if you choose to go directly to someone else, I would only ask that you please cc me on any emails so I can be assured the matter is resolved. I look forward to continuing to work together in a collaborative manner. Have a great day. Thank you.”
No heat, no accusations, just a request for help. This is the professional, non-confrontational manner I spoke to my mom about. So far I have not heard from either individual that received the email. And it doesn’t matter–I got peace from the piece.
I encourage you to try this approach—take off the heat and convey your feelings/ask for help—when you feel you have been wronged, feelings are hurt, etc. Recognize the teaching moment, craft your piece for peace, and who knows? The recipient might just be a willing (or unwitting) student.

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