So, I’ve been thinking about how to give compliments to colleagues. Sometimes it’s easy, so I have no problem there. But, what if the compliment has potential to lead to a seriously weird conversation?
Here’s my situation. I noticed that someone I work with was making a real effort in leadership. I noticed serious attention to all sorts of dealings with individuals and groups, an attempt to be clear, to be firm when necessary. I see this person working to lead in a way that is calm and does not become frantic in the midst of a contentious discussion. And, I know how hard many of those things can be, not because I have mastered them. I know because I am working on some of these things myself.
When I am in meetings and can look around, I take a lot of mental notes about who says what, who reacts in what way, who gains attention, who earns respect sometimes begrudgingly. I also watch to see how opinions line up. Depending on who expresses an opposing view point, who piles on, and who holds back, the whole thing can either get nicely wrapped up or get shot to hell. As someone working in EdTech, I am frequently in the position of being seen as the spokesperson for Change or in some peoples opinion the end of education as we know it. I have had to take the long view on more than one occasion. I remind myself that I am playing the long game, and I’ll be back tomorrow. I don’t like to lose. So, I’ll come around from another direction, I’ll find another person to voice some key ideas, I’ll schmooze.
Back to my colleague who has been working hard. I thought about sending an email saying I notice and appreciate this. However, this is someone with more experience than I have, and there are some confusing lines between our various positions based on my multiple roles. I worried that I would sound somehow supervisor-ish, when I am not, or like I am the voice of experience, which again I am not. Ugh.
Problem solved when my colleague asked for feedback! I then got the chance to say how much I had been thinking about and appreciating all the effort and did not know how to pass that on. However, I am interested in thoughts on how I could have proceeded if I had not had the opening. Any recommendations?
p.s. Already got an email thanking me for the feedback. We are all doing the happy dance, for the moment.