Monday, July 02, 2012

Managing disappointment and casting the first stone.

I’ve been thinking about something for the past few days, and I’m finally ready to write about it. Last Friday was the last working day of our financial year and promotion list went out. Some were joyous and some were disappointed. Such is life I guess.

A manager, Rob, was promoted to senior manager while a consultant, Constance, who was expecting a double promotion didn't get it.

Rob was happy about his promotion and everyone shook his hand, gave him a pat on the back while Constance was feeling let down.
She felt that she had worked so much in the past year at the expense of her health and this was not the outcome she expected. Although there was no promise of a double promotion and she just became a consultant this year, she felt that perhaps she didn't have to do her time as a consultant for a couple of years before taking on the next role.

Constance ranted about how disappointed she felt, and how Rob was rubbing his promotion in her face by flaunting his new superiority in the office. As a friend, there was nothing I could say to make her feel better.

-- The poison of disappointment seeps in.

While I thought Rob wasn't obnoxious about his promotion (he was just doing his job as usual, handing out work to the team), Constance took every little thing poorly. This got me thinking, no matter what we say (or deny), our disappointment makes us biased.

I read an article "The Biases You Don't Know You Have" by Susan David on HBR recently and I guess she's right. We tend to judge others rather than consider their behavior with regard to a situation. I'm sure if Rob replies a little slower than before, Constance would feel snubbed instead of considering the situation Rob might be in.

We are all human, and we tend to have a greater reaction when we feel disappointed or angry. It makes us say things we may regret and very often, the words we say can have very long and profound repercussions we didn't know exist at all. Just as I am passing judgement on Constance's reaction, I am doing the same thing as she did.

"Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone." But just how many of us can do this?

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