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Friday, February 15, 2008

Becoming a Dolphin

Do you ever lose your temper and then, later, want to completely kick yourself for acting so poorly? I do this to myself all of the time. In the thirty-something years I've walked this earth, I have managed to learn to control my words (for the most part), but my tone of voice is a whole different ball game. The Husband calls it my "teacher voice," capable of reducing grown men to sniveling four-year-olds.

It's a constant struggle for me, one that I pray about often. I do feel I've grown better in this area, with the help of the Holy Spirit, but I'm still so far from where I should be. I lost my temper with an employee at the Tongginator's swim class yesterday. Thankfully I managed to avoid setting a bad example for the children, but only because I didn't act this way within their earshot. Canuck K witnessed it, however, as well as several strangers and the employee to whom I directed my displeasure.

I won't share the she said/she said because, to be honest, you'd read it and think, "the employee really had it coming. And Tonggu Momma didn't say anything inappropriate." And, actually, I didn't. But, oh, my tone of voice ... and the anger behind my very well-chosen words. I could have reacted more gently, with a more forgiving spirit, despite the employee's twenty-something attitude (complete with eye role and sarcastic "I got the memo" comment). I'm embarrassed, mostly because I expect so much better of myself.

I shared the story with Husband, and told him I felt I should apologize to the employee. The Husband responded, "Absolutely not." The Husband even wondered aloud if the employee's attack stemmed from racial prejudice against our girls. I highly doubt that, but I'm still unsure whether I need to apologize. I'll definitely pray about this for the remainder of the week. I did apologize to my friend Canuck K, as she had the misfortune to witness it, and she softly smiled and shared a story about a former supervisor at her past job.

The supervisor became known around the hospital as a shark. She earned the reputation of being somewhat difficult to work with, but quite capable of completing any challenging task management assigned her. The supervisor always told Canuck K, "You're too nice. You need to learn to be more of a shark."

At one point, the supervisor attended a lengthy conference and management placed Canuck K temporarily in charge. When the supervisor returned, she appeared visibly shocked that, during her absence, Canuck K ran a smoothly sailing ship, and even managed to enact some progressive changes. How could that be possible when Canuck K acted in such a soft-spoken and quiet manner?

Canuck K smiled at her then, too. She replied to the supervisor, "Do you know that dolphins can kill sharks? They do avoid them, if at all possible, but - when pressed - they are capable of killing a shark to protect themselves or one of their own. "

Canuck K went on to share with me: "That employee came at us like a shark, and you simply reacted in turn. Most situations call for dolphins, but there are always times when a shark is needed. There is a place for both, and it's all about learning when to become a dolphin ... and when to act like a shark."

So, I have the shark part down pat, I think. When, oh when, am I going to become a dolphin?


Janet said...

I am generally a dolphin, but my shark comes out occasionally. (much to my chagrin!)

PS- I have a "teacher voice" too....:-(