I RECIEVED an interesting reaction to last week’s article and would like to address it here:
"We had email exchanges before about religion/God-related topic. I'm not sure if you will remember me. After that instance, I still continued to read your articles and remained subscribed.
Anyway, I have read today's article about understanding people. Not bragging but I think I have always been understanding. I listen and take a moment before reacting. I learned to put myself in the other person's shoes several times in order to better understand situations. There are times though that I need to vent so as to keep my sanity as well, especially, after hearing something that I do not agree with or something that makes me furious (I am human after all). It helps me "think out loud" and analyze what triggered that reaction from me.
However, now I have difficulty drawing the line between extending my patience to understand the context of the other person's situation, and to categorize the other person as being plain jerk. I know doing things to the extreme is never good (is there such thing as being too understanding?) But honestly, I sometimes fear that the other person is probably taking me for a ride. I cannot always rely on gut feel because, as you know, not all “kutob/hinala” are true.
P.S. I am an HR Supervisor and facing this difficulty at work. Because of this behavior/ personality of mine (being understanding), I feel that it makes me look "weak." Oh... striking that balance! I will really appreciate if you'll give me your two cents. More power to you sir!"
Hello again, and thanks for writing again. I admit not remembering at once who you were, but thank Google for well, Google, and I was able to see our last exchange which was way back in 2013.
Now, regarding your situation, let me answer that on two levels -- personal and professional. First, in the context of personal relationships, yes there is such a thing as being “too understanding” and that makes you a pushover and people can take advantage of you. Part of understanding context is also discerning when the other person is indeed taking you for a ride, and then dealing with it in a manner that you see fit. Sometimes, it entails ending the relationship with the other person. Understanding does not necessarily mean condoning or even agreeing with the behavior.
For example, there have been several times when people have borrowed money from me in the past and have not paid me back. It would be easy to judge all of these people as opportunists and “unfriending” them not only in Facebook but in real life. But in trying to understand their situation, I found out that one is still struggling with finances and has a medical condition requiring constant treatment. I do not push the issue with that person and he still remains my friend. However, there is another person who borrowed from me at a time when he was in dire need of assistance, but a few years later, I saw him post in social media about being in this event, and attending this convention, and even getting married. So I figured that he already had a turnaround in finances. When I reminded him about the debt, however, it was like he had conveniently forgotten it at first, then he promised to pay, then I didn’t get any response anymore. Anyway, the amount was not that large so I decided to let it go, but I do not look at the person the same way anymore and he does not have the respect I once had for him.
Now, professionally, you say that you are an HR supervisor, and yes I understand the challenges of your job. I often have conversations with our own HR manager about cases and situations with our employees. On the one hand, you are there to implement the policies of the company but on the other hand, you also want to be on the side of the employees and not have them look at you as the enemy. You are caught between management and the workforce.
This would be my advice. Listen to the people, but do not get carried away by emotions. Be results-oriented, and implement policy based on results. What do I mean? If an employee always shows up late and explains it is because he has to help his sick mother get up every morning and accompany her to the market (because no one else is there). Yes, that is a situation we can understand, but what is the result? That he always clocks in late.
Perhaps here it becomes clearer when I say that understanding does not mean condoning the behavior. You could point out that you understand his difficulty but the result is his constant tardiness, which is against company policy. It would be unfair to give him special consideration because that would open the door for others to also ask for special consideration for whatever reason. You can then give advice based on this, like why doesn’t he wake up earlier so that he can be done with the market earlier, and so on.
Be firm, but also be fair and always be kind. Hope you find this helpful.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on August 18, 2017.
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