My first interaction with Ted Wachtel from IIRP, was almost 10 years ago. We were in a break out session, in the Thunderbird Motel in Minneapolis, MN. During the discussion, Ted spoke about a Harvard Business Review Article on ‘Fair Process’. I followed up at lunch, he took my card and said he would send the article. I was hopeful, but not confident I would hear from him again. He did me a great favor and followed up.
By doing this Ted taught me 2 lessons. 1.)you do what you say. you follow through. 2.)committment to theory. The first lesson is pretty self-explanatory. I really enjoy professional conferences. Sometimes I have followed up and made lasting friendships. Other times I have kept my word sent off a dvd or an article and never hear from a person again. Ted taught me how meaningful that follow-thru is. Ted valued in information ‘theory’ in that article. He had a committment to that and knew it was great stuff. I have used it again and again. It really makes great sense.
The second lesson is when you find something awesome, you hold it up and hand it out to others.
The article is about being heard. You might get your outcome, but if you are shortchanged in being heard, you aren’t happy. I got to give someone a chance to be heard.
Last Friday we had an artist reception and open house. It was scheduled from 4-6 pm. The newspaper printed 2-4. At 2:30 someone arrived, and I explained we were having a meeting. (In reality it was a Circle, but I didn’t think she would understand.) The visitor was very short with me, informed me what the newspaper said. She slammed the door on the way out, giving me very little chance to make a plan with her.
I went back to the Circle and as I sat down said “that was harsh”. My face must have looked concerned, because a woman in the Circle suggested I not take that on. It was her not me. Yes, I thought, I don’t need to carry that around.
Ironically enough. It was a brilliant example for our Circle. The Circle is focusing on a teen treating Mom hostile. We are supporting a violence free home for Mom and Daughter.
Then 4 days later I get a phone call at the office. A woman is calling about the Open House. We had two other people visit, so I know exactly who this is. It’s the door slammer.
I am saying I’m sorry, I’m inviting her down to see the art work. She wanted to talk to the artist, well he wasn’t here then anyway. She suggested I should have put a sign up. I did put a sign up after she left, because before that I didn’t know the paper printed the wrong times. I am making attempts to problem solve with her and none of it will be accepted. I want to ask what her real problem is. Now I’m getting annoyed!
Then my heart turns. I feel sorry for her, this is a HUGE deal. She is SO upset about coming to visit and being turned away. In my kindest most sincere voice, I ask “what do you most need me to know?”. Well it turns out she wants me to do something for all the other people, not just her, that came down that day. Okay, I say I will. I apologize once again and we get off the phone.
I really doubt we had anyone other than her come visit. It is possible that people came to the door and saw the sign. We had just 30 more minutes of Circle. When you consider her request for me to do something for everyone else that came down – it’s impossible. I don’t know who they are.
This woman just wanted to be heard.
It’s amazing how often we just don’t get to be heard. I am so thankful that Restorative Jusitice gives people that place to be heard. Usually the Restorative Jusitce Center provides this in our Conferences and Circles, in this instance we provided it for our Open House!