I got pulled into a discussion at work yesterday afternoon. An issue had come up that had triggered some problems for a couple of our people at the college. Early into the conversation, I realized that either there was an invisible cone of deafness over me or my hearing aid batteries had passed their expiration date.
I stepped away, replaced the batteries, the cone of deafness disappeared and I returned to the conversation. The small ripples of gentle laughter ebbed away quietly.
As the five of us talked, I realized that we needed another party at the table. “Folks,” I said, “There’s another party we need at this table.” One of my more energetic colleagues headed down the hall and returned pretty soon with the needed individual.
After listening carefully, he answered a couple of questions and then proposed a simple yet effective solution. By changing what he had been doing he would be able to save the other two people many hours of work. It would put a bit more work on him but he was happy to do it in order to make things better for them.
It was a classic example of people getting together and blending their efforts to solve a problem. It was not about blame or fault or who caught whom doing what. It was instead a living example of how open, respectful, direct communication among good people can resolve a situation in a way that promotes positive feelings. And solves problems instead of creating more of them.
A little listening, a bit of honesty and humility, a touch of creativity and a shared belief that we share a goal larger than any individual. That making things better is more important that finding fault or taking credit. That every one of us is valuable, worthy and capable.
When you work, worship or otherwise interact with people like that, there’s hardly anything that can’t be made better. Hardly anything is impossible.
Especially with fresh batteries…