I had a meeting a work yesterday and afterward my supervisor pulled me into her office to talk.
Supervisor: I was very disappointed in you today. I didn’t expect you to say what you said at the meeting.
Muslim Apple: What did I say?
Supervisor: It was the whole way it came off..
Muslim Apple: What did I say, you have to be specific.
Supervisor: Hold on, let me talk. You made it seem like my supervisor and I don’t support you or do any work.
Muslim Apple: No, that is not what I what I said or meant.
Supervisor: Do you know how much work we do?
Muslim Apple: Yes, I know you both work hard and that is why I don’t come running to you about every little thing.
Supervisor: I thought we had an open relationship and that you could talk to me about anything. I’ve always watched your back.
Muslim Apple: I don’t think it is necessary to come to you with small complaints.
Supervisor: You just don’t get it, do you. We’ve talked about this before. You have to be careful how you word things because people around here like to talk and you’re going to piss a lot of people off. I don’t know how long I will be here but I am not going to have that over my head. You can’t make a list of complaints and them ambush us with them at the meeting without first coming to me or my supervisor.
Muslim Apple: I didn’t come to the meeting with a list of complaints but when the Director asked for our comments in the meeting I made a list of points I wanted to emphasize.
Supervisor: That is not the forum to voice your complaints. You should have kept your comments very general. Did you hear how the others interacted with their supervisors? I didn’t hear you say those things.
Muslim Apple: Did you want me to praise you?
Supervisor: No, but to also recognize and acknowledge the work we do.
Muslim Apple: Yes, you two are very capable and hard working and I appreciate that.
Supervisor: I need your evaluation before you leave.
Muslim Apple: Ok.
My supervisor was right about the point that I just didn’t get it. Although, I am coming to understand it more.
Things I don’t get:
Most people don’t actually listen to what you are saying. They are planning their response or just waiting for you to finish so they can speak.
Most people do not take criticism of their work well and will see it as a personal attack on their character. And they will get offended and try to harm you in return.
You cannot say what you want just because it is the truth. The truth sometimes hurts and most people would prefer a sugarcoated placebo than to accept facts that differ from their predetermined ideology. I now have a better understanding of the Bush administration when they say Iraq is not in civil war, Iran is a danger to the international community, and that the world is safer now. Even though the facts do not pan out they are keeping to their ideology.
Some people are more concerned with perception and style over truth and substance.
I do not always take criticism well but I do actually ponder over the criticisms people make about me for awhile. And if the points are valid, I try to implement change. If the criticism is invalid, then I take the advice of one shaykh I listened to treat think of those people making those opinions as though they are small children so that I do not concern myself with it.
I prefer few direct words and honesty over many meaningless words that couch the truth.
Some people that ask for your opinion are not sincere. They ask only to further their own personal ideological goals. They don’t expect you to say anything of import, are barely listening, and will mock you or get upset if you say something which does not conform to their view of you or how they see themselves in relation to you.
I need to make the words of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam in my tagline (now on visible only my RSS feed) my motto and implement it in my daily life. “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say good or remain silent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
I’m learning but it’s a process:
Yesterday, I was at the Al-Qalam school fundraiser and afterward the sister who designed the flyer came up to me and asked me what I thought of the event. Even though there were some missteps I just said, alhamdulillah, I think it went well. We talked for a bit but I didn’t say anything critical and then she asked me to fill out the feedback form.
I could have criticized several things about the evening but I knew she and many others worked hard to put on the event and that they may have been hurt if ran off my whole list of negatives. So my supervisor was right, I just didn’t get it. She took it personally and was hurt when I voiced my complaints at the meeting.
While driving home from the event, in the shadow of the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial I saw the inconsistency in my behavior with my friend and with my supervisor.
So I have resolved to, say good or remain silent. The question that arises in my mind is what does it mean to say good. Because sometimes saying the truth is good even if it is unpalatable for others and if someone asks you for your opinion and you have some serious negative complaints how do give voice to them. But I guess, I’ll have to choose my words more carefully and speak more slowly so I have proper time to think it through.