It is my belief that I am an effective coach, mentor, instructor, because so much of what I teach about customer service and Emotional Intelligence did not come naturally to me. I have had to learn some concepts the hard way, questioning them and grappling with them until they made sense to me. This has helped me to understand and empathize with clients who have difficulty grasping a point. It keeps me from ever trivializing someone’s lack of understanding. Many managers, professors, customers, mentors, and coworkers have had a part in my training. I’d like to tell you about one coworker, Edythe.Years ago, when I was strict and inflexible about company policy, Edythe mentored me through her example. She guided me to better behavior, despite my churlish, insufferable attitude. She was senior to me in our workplace and in life, and miles ahead of me in the social graces. We worked in close proximity for a couple of years, until I moved on to other work. As I matured, I continued to appreciate and internalize the concepts Edythe had modeled. And as I recognized her wisdom, I thought of someday sending her a note of thanks.
Many years after we had worked together I was having lunch with a friend in a Simsbury restaurant. There was Edythe, sitting with a woman who was wearing scrubs. I recognized her immediately. When the other woman left the table for a moment, I went over and introduced myself. I reminded Edythe where we had worked, and expressed my gratitude for the huge impact she had on my professional growth over the years.Edythe gave me an uncomprehending smile and looked around nervously for the other woman. It became clear to me that in her current condition she was unable to understand who I was, or why I had approached her. She seemed agitated, so I apologized for bothering her and returned to my table, having forever missed the opportunity to thank her. That was probably her final lesson for me, which I share with you in Edythe’s honor.
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