The time had come for me to face my co-workers for the first time since my melt-down. Now to set the scene for you: I hadn’t been at work for six weeks, I hadn’t spoken to anyone from my workplace for six weeks, and I live in a small regional city where gossip gets spread around quickly! And I was still feeling in a depressive state thinking I didn’t want to go back to work.
Mediation is not a necessarily short process; it is quite complex and is completely confidential. So I can’t elaborate on any specific details in this diary. However I want to share my feelings, my doubts, my outcomes and the enlightenment that I discovered.
Normally I have the confidence in my ability to handle this type of situation as a professional, but I was a bit scared that my emotions may take over. I think you would agree with me that the truth hurts but I believe if you are a true professional you know how to identify and admit to your faults. But if you are in a state of depression it can be hard to focus on how to take critical feedback in whatever form it is delivered. Luckily I could take a support person to the mediation with me who was not allowed to participate in the mediation but could help me throughout the day with moral support.
The mediator laid out the ground rules for the session and we all had to indicate that we were coming together in good faith to repair our relationship. We had to sign a confidentiality agreement. I wondered how confidential this was really going to be but had to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Each person had already met individually with the mediator at a previous session to give their version of events. Now as individuals we had to relay that to the group and briefly describe what we believed had led us to this point in time. We had to talk about the way in which we (as individuals) felt the three of us could move forward, work again cohesively and trust and support in each other.
I had prepared a long “speech” of what situations and events brought me to this point. I also made a list of what I thought my co-workers would say about my leadership performance and what they may want improved. I was feeling that I had pretty much nailed what the issues might be. I had prepared myself as emotionally as possible.
I was quite composed when listening to my co-workers’ perception of my personality, my job role, my actions and of course what led to me yelling at them. I was also very calm when I had to present my list of things that I wanted addressed. But then I had to explain the sequence of events that I felt led to my outburst – it was important for them to understand my mind and my feelings. That was the catalyst – this part of the session turned out to be an emotional experience and I couldn’t help but let out the tears.
Now as a leader in my profession I hate the fact that when I get over emotional it turns to tears. I have read that men think women turn on the tears in order to get what they want; that’s not my style. I have always been a crier – my Mother used to always say to me “Wednesday’s child is full of woe”! I don’t think that helped my emotional state in any way!!
However I managed to keep the tears at bay for the remainder of the day. But you know I said I had felt uncertain about the whole process? At the end of the day I still felt this way. My support person was a wonderful anchor point for me but the mediation process hadn’t finished yet. The group would have to meet again to put an agreement together – all we had accomplished on the first day was a list of items that needed to be put into our agreement. I was worried this could take a few more sessions and all this time I couldn’t go back to work until it was reached.
After a gruelling 8 hours the end of the first day finally arrived. Thank goodness that was over but how would I relax and sleep tonight? How would I get through any more of these days? My mind was still overflowing with negativity. I was sure that it was impossible for me to ever go back to my old job.
I went home and let out the barrage of emotions I was feeling – luckily my husband is an extremely supportive person! I re-hashed the day’s happenings to him and around and around in my head. I figured after this gruelling day I needed to chill out and focus on other things. I had been participating in a couple of blogs and surveys during my time off and they offered me a diversion.
Then the most amazing thing happened – my brain kicked into gear and I think I actually had an epiphany!! I needed to become more PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE. I needed to embrace what was happening to me and make things work for ME!
At last I could move forward……2011 would now actually improve.