You Don't Like Me

I was working on a project in Canada.  My client counterpart was fabulous.  She knew her people.  She was incredibly supportive about the capability we were building in her organization and was overjoyed about the skills this initiative would build in her people. 

About six months into the project, our relationship began to erode.  She delegated important decisions to her direct reports.  She stopped showing up for meetings.  To keep the project rolling, I went around and above her to get decisions made.  And eventually, she avoided contact with me altogether.  I couldn't figure it out.  Things were getting ugly.

I went to the partner in charge of the project for advice. 

Virginia wasn't high on the EQ scale.  In fact, she bemoaned her lack of people skills.  Introvert and driven, she delivered hard messages somewhat …. Indelicately.

And yet, she gave me perhaps the BEST people advice I'd ever received in my career.

When I laid out everything that had happened over the last few months, she simply told me to go tell her, " I don't think you like me." 

This advice HORRIFIED me and struck me to the core.  If there's one thing I pride myself in is being liked.  So much so that my need to be liked hinders me sometime.  Perhaps you know the type.  I literally felt sick to my stomach.  NO WAY was I going to tell her I didn't think she liked me.  My physical resistance, no REVULSION, is why I knew it was ABSOLUTELY the right thing to do.   Aargh!!

I set up the 1:1 meeting and mustered all the courage I had.  I went into her office.  I felt involuntary shakes coming over my body as adrenaline pumped through my veins.

I sat down.  She looked at me from her desk and I sputtered, "I don't think you like me."

Surprised and utterly taken aback, her demeanor changed, softening.  "I don't think you trust me."

"What?" exclaimed! 

We then launched into an BEAUTIFUL conversation with multiple apologies on both sides for misunderstanding and misreading each other for the last couple months.  We left each other with a smile and a hug, rare in that workplace.

Why is this story so important?

How often have you interpreted a relationship gone sour?  "Facts" build up.  Your perspective is confirmed and re-confirmed as proof builds up.  Conversations get short or stop altogether.  And you walk away. 

Authentic Interaction ceases.

Perhaps all that's needed is an icebreaking conversation.  A moment of real-ness.  Virginia challenged me with the unthinkable.  To speak the unspeakable.  To put on the table the feelings of the matter instead of the 'facts.'   Perhaps I grossly underestimated her EQ after all! 

What conversation are you avoiding?  Perhaps it's time to break the ice and share how you feel instead of what you think.  Taking the risk of an Authentic Interaction may be the portal to a renewed relationship!

Live 100% Empowered!


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