Easily Offended

Some people just wear me out.

You know what I’m talking about. There are those people who cause you to triple-think everything you say and every action you make for fear they will take offense.  And when they become offended, it is weeks of diligent work to get them un-offended.

The Story

I coached a girls’ basketball team one winter, many years ago.  My assistant coach was a young lady who fell into the category of easily offended.  Before I was out of the gym after the first game, she called to inform me how I had insulted her during the game and how I was harming these young girls with my coaching style (which I believe was very laid-back in comparison to all the other coaches).

After considering this conversation and after checking with the basketball league, I called my young assistant coach back and fired her. If you thought I offended her during the game, that was nothing compared to the offense she took at being fired.

This story is important for five reasons.

First

In every successful organization, there is one person with authority.  Every car has one, and only one, steering wheel for a reason.  Whether you are second in command or the janitor, your boss should be courteous to hear your ideas but is in no way obligated to use them.

Second

Circumstances dictate the level of all discussions.  A fast-paced basketball game in a loud gym with six simultaneous games being played is not conducive to close, introspective, or long discussions.  The same would be true for attempting to have a career advancing discussion with your boss when project deadlines are looming and the office environment is frantic.

Third

There is always the appropriate time and place for discussions. These open discussions are for pragmatic, rational debates so that everyone is on the same page.  Good bosses make time for one-on-one discussions to deal with subjects concerning emotions and feelings.  Some of these conversations may be personal but should always be focused on organizational improvement.

Fourth

Carefully consider the appropriate time and place to push hot-button issues.  Either party, both the employee and the employer, can inject as well as be subject to damaging dialogue if both are not in the right frame of mind.  Calling the head coach to complain barely minutes after the game was over was not an appropriate time.

Finally

If you are easily offended, recognize that trait and consider it as you interact with others, your career will depend on it.

The Bible

People being offended dates back centuries.  The Bible, being over 3,000 years old, has considerable advice about both offending and being offended.

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.  Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.

Proverbs 11:12

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense,
but a man of understanding remains silent.

 

Everyone should have a chance to share their opinions and be heard.  It is unreasonable, however, to expect that your opinion and, in the case of easily offended people, your feelings, govern all decisions.