First, I want to apologize for any format, grammar or misspellings in this post. My computer charger is broken and so I am writing this on my phone. 😥
Second, this is not the worst time I put my foot in my mouth, but it is one of the few times I remember.
When I was in my early twenties I worked with Americorps. It’s a national volunteering program that organizations around the world are part of. The organization I worked with was City Year. It was a one year program in which we worked in schools around the city. We provided mentoring and tutoring services, while running an afterschool program.
We were put on teams and for the rest of the year you saw them more than the people you loved. Due to this, a major part of the program was focused on team building. Our team was particularly close, but we came from such a variety of backgrounds that it was often tough to see eye to eye.
One of my teammates, I had a hard time seeing eye to eye with was due to us having similar personalities. (Of course this is something I have reflected on recently) she was just a tad more type A than I was.
Anyway, at some point during the year they thought it would be a grand idea for us to do a team critique. Basically we all got to sit with one another saying things we admired about eachother and things that we thought we could work on.
When it came time for our turn, I was feeling very resentful of the whole process. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually like hurting other people’s feelings and being caught off guard with criticisms from your teammates no matter how well meaning the comments try to be. It was turning out to be a very trying process for me. I have always been able to tell when I hurt someone even when they try to hide it.
She was no different and I absolutely made it worse, by not pausing to think of the order of my words. Instead of saying that we had a difficult time working together, I said “we both know that we don’t work well together”. Her face fell. And I felt horrendous. She didn’t believe me when I tried to fix what I said and who could blame her? Don’t we all say that the first thing out of your mouth is often how you really feel because you haven’t had time to tamper with it.
Yet, that wasn’t how I felt. I was just frustrated and wound up hurting her. We never really did get over that moment. To this day I wonder what our relationship would have been like if it had never happened. Shrugs, I guess I’ll never know, but now I always try to make sure what I am saying is actually what I mean.