My boss had me into the conference room. Immediately, he began railing about an annual report that was two days late.
“This needs to be done the same time every year,” he said, eyes wide with anger. “First of the month. Every year. Same time, dammit!”
And indeed, this is true.
Here’s another truth: the boss had relieved me of the responsibility the previous year, and had given it to Dave. Furthermore, I oversaw the job for years and never missed a deadline.
I calmly reminded the boss of these dismantling truths:
“You gave that responsibility to Dave last year. It’s his job now. Dave failed, not me. I never failed to meet a deadline. Never. Not once.”
“You’re supposed to help Dave!” the boss replied—still angry, completely ignoring the dismantling truths.
“And I did. Dave assigned me my portion. I finished a week early, and turned it in. Dave is organizing the work, not me. I used to organize it.”
“This report is important, dammit! We can’t have all this dilly-dallying around. I won’t put-up with it, I tell you!”
This is the point at which I tapped a pretend microphone in my hand—
Tap-tap-tap—“Hellooo? Is this thing on?”
It was a sarcastic attempt to lighten the mood; it did not have that effect.
So for “truth’s” sake, let’s review: there is a report that needs to be done the same time every year, and by the first of the month. I had been responsible for the report for many years, never once failing to meet the deadline. The boss relieved me of the responsibility and placed Dave in charge. Dave organized the work, and delegated my portion, which I completed and turned-in a week early. The ultimate report, however, wasn’t completed on time. Dave failed at his task and in his responsibilities.
And, voilà! The “truth” of this annual report matter.
There isn’t another brand of truth. This is it—the truth. Yet, I could’ve recited the previous review—the truth—to my boss verbatim, yet again, and the truth would have been ignored, yet again.
Because the boss is angry. He wants to chew somebody’s ass over the late report, and he has clearly determined it’s my ass he wants to chew. Not Dave’s, who is truly responsible and deserving.
The point is, the truth doesn’t make any difference. In fact, it’s a nuisance. The boss isn’t interested in the truth or in my subsequent exoneration, either one. He’s interested in venting his anger and frustrations over the late report.
The fact is, I can throw incontrovertible fact after fact at the boss and it isn’t going to change a thing—the previous incident being: Exhibit A. Yet, despite it not changing a thing, this is precisely what people in these circumstances continue to do. In an effort to persuade, they keep throwing out facts, thinking their accuser will finally see the light and offer absolution.
Yet, accusers rarely see the light. They don’t want to see the light. Thus, they don’t agree. They don’t offer absolution or vindication. They don’t apologize. They just continue with the accusations.
Why? Because the truth is a nuisance, a hindrance.
The boss could’ve immediately said, “Oh, that’s right. I’d completely forgotten that I’d given that responsibility to Dave.” And he could’ve followed with, “Considering the report is late, perhaps I should have left you in charge! Hahaha! Forgive me. You may go.”
Yet, the boss doesn’t say that. He’s emotional—mad. Not to mention, he’s committed to his accusation, and faces humiliation if it proves false and unjustified and unfairly issued. Thus, in venting his anger and frustration, and in avoiding embarrassment, the truth is both a hindrance and the enemy.
The more the ass chewing continued in this particular incident, the more I didn’t like it—and not because I’m above an ass chewing, I’m not. I didn’t like the truth being blatantly ignored and totally ineffectual—at the expense of my ass, no less.
Personally, nothing makes me more indignant, especially when I have a vested business interest. I sent one across the bow.
“Look, you’re gonna stop chewing my ass, or you’re gonna see me put my shit in a box, and leave.”
“I’m not the problem,” I quickly returned, preventing a defensive, ego-driven response. “And if I were the problem, I’d sit here and take an ass chewing without uttering a single word. Because I’d deserve it. But I don’t deserve it. Dave deserves it. Yet, you persist in chewing my ass, instead. I’d recommend that you stop chewing my ass before my shit goes in a box.”
The approach is in line with one of my life rules, which is: you’re a business person first, and an employee second—always, and in everything. Employment doesn’t make people slaves. Leasing themselves and their services to someone else, people are commodities, each their own private business. Hence, they have jurisdiction and authority over their business affairs. Simply, they have the freedom to do whatever they want.
If people don’t like what they’re being paid, they can negotiate better wages. Or they can find another job, and leave.
If they don’t like the way things are being done, don’t like inefficiency at their expense, they can say so. They can offer remedies and improve things. Or, they can leave.
If they’re getting their ass unfairly chewed, they can fight back. Or, they can place their shit in a box, and leave.
This is a “business person first” mindset.
Most people think like employees, or utilize an employee first mindset, because, after acquiring mortgage and college tuition payments, they lose their nerve. They’ll endure an unfair ass chewing without saying a word. And rather than act like business people and assert themselves, they’ll go home and pick a fight with their spouse to vent their own frustrations. Better still, they’ll become liberals and espouse hatred towards business owners and capitalism the rest of their lives—or until they begin running their own companies, where they learn what they don’t know about the challenges and injustices of running a business.
Nevertheless. People should view themselves as business persons first, and employees second. It’s all business, and from a mindset of ownership is exactly how people should treat all of their affairs.
I finished by saying to my boss: “If I have a boss who is going to give me an ass chewing for something I’m not responsible for, that I can demonstrate I’m not responsible for, and that he then knows I’m not responsible for, then I don’t want to work for a person like that anymore.”
My boss softened his expression and tone.
“Look,” he said gently, “this report is important. We just need to make sure it’s done.”
“You’re talking to the wrong guy,” I said brusquely.
His softening was supposed to make me soften. Yet, he continued, if subtly, to maintain that I was to some degree responsible.
In other words, despite all that I had said, and proven, he still wasn’t interested in the truth. The only brand of truth.
Finally, and with no apology, “I’ll have a talk with Dave,” my boss said soothingly.
I took it as an apology. Because that’s what it was, which is good enough.
People get caught-up in wanting/demanding a direct apology, and with hearing the actual words, “I’m sorry.” Frankly, it shows subordination and weakness, that of an employee mindset. It isn’t how business-minded people behave.
Via his comment, my boss accepted Dave was the problem, and that I had been correct all along. This was a business negotiation, and I won. Sorry was an ego-rescuing, “I’ll have a talk with Dave.” It’s a symbolic peace over war bow, as in martial arts. And for the confident business person, it is sufficient.
And the boss didn’t chew my ass again, either. In fact, he became quite fond of me, wanted to know what I thought about things, how I’d do things.
Mainly because I was right about Dave. But also because I had nerve.
The point is “truth” isn’t a mysterious and elusive aspect of life. It’s a present and discoverable aspect in any and every situation. The problem is, truth is always buried beneath a pile of self-serving, political BS. Consequently, truth is a chore to unearth and expose, which is a reason people don’t pursue it. And clearly, even when it is unearthed and exposed, it’s yet defiantly ignored for people wanting and needing to disregard it for selfish reasons, which is yet another reason people don’t pursue it.
Yet, present and discoverable, there it is in any and every situation for all to access. It’s just, nobody wants to do the digging. Most would rather keep piling on the crap, which is waaay easier.
If people want better lives, and better relationships, they’d stop shoveling.
Why do they shovel?
Because it delays the two most loathsome admissions of the human existence:
“I’m wrong,” and “I’m sorry.”
Instead people say, “I’ll have a talk with Dave,” which is sufficient, but actually rather pathetic.
So here’s the preventative: one, before chewing someone’s ass, do some thinking and digging and know the truth, so as to not unfairly accuse, and so as to avoid having to say, gulp!, “I’m wrong,” and “I’m sorry.” And so as to avoid having to defiantly continue an argument to save yourself the embarrassment of thoughtlessness and laziness and ineptitude, too.
Two, know the truth so you can fiercely and effectively defend yourself, and so you can go on inexorable attack.
Three, know the truth so you can be respected, and valued.
In the grand scheme, the truth is a rather formidable asset. Actually, it’s the ultimate asset. Everyone recognizes the truth when they hear it, too. And everything else?
Well, it’s just cheap whiskey.
There is but one brand of truth. It’s top shelf. And despite its crappy storage, it ages well, too.
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