In 1990, I got a job with Raytheon, Missile Systems Division in Bristol, Tennessee. My job was in the design department. Within the first couple of days on the job, my supervisor instructed me to go to the drawing vault to sign out some drawings for revisions. The ladies who worked in the vault were thought by some to be difficult to deal with and I had been told about them by other designers. My supervisor told me to inform the ladies if I had any difficulty in obtaining the drawings that he would come to sign them out himself. He did not mean this in any derogatory way; he simply meant that since I was new and not yet familiar with all the procedures that he would take care of it if we encountered any problems in communication.
Sure enough their were problems when I went to sign out the drawings. I don’t recall exactly what the problems were but I believe the ladies required information that I was not able to provide. When it became apparent that that this transaction was not going smoothly, I did as my supervisor had instructed and informed them that my boss would take care of the matter himself. Well, that did not go over well with the ladies at all. They did not take the comment as it was intended. They interpreted it to be a smart aleck comment on my part. I imagine they interpreted it as if I were saying, “If you girls are not capable or not willing to give me what I need, I will inform my supervisor about this and he will get the job done!”
They did not express their feelings to me very much at the time, but it certainly showed up in how I was treated afterward. I was always the last designer to be served when several of us had drawings to sign out even if I had placed my order first. They were never polite and were quick to criticize me at every opportunity. If I had to work in the vault for any length of time to file away drawings or pull revision cards, they would never speak to me though I was working right by their side.
The reason I never took the time to explain to them that my earlier remark was not intended to be condescending or insulting is because I myself did not know why they were acting this way at the time. I never made the connection.
I was not a Christian in those days and had a very low tolerance for anyone projecting this kind of attitude toward me. In this case however I did not respond in my normal character. Perhaps it was because I was in a new job that I loved and id not want to get into any conflicts with other employees especially since I was still in my probationary period. Stepping out of character can be quiet a learning experience. It allows us to see the effects of behaving differently. If we are willing and able to recognize the connection between the altered behavior and the resulting outcome, we can grow in wisdom from these experiences. I believe seeing and understanding the cause and effect relationships in life are very significant components in achieving wisdom as we grow older.
I held my peace and just observed how these ladies responded to other designers who came sought their services. It soon became apparent to me why these ladies had such a reputation for being “snappy” and sometimes difficult to get along with. They were not getting very much respect from those they were helping. Some people were demanding, condescending in their dialog and attitude, they did not bother to file drawings back properly as they were required to do, and basically their lack of respect in these areas were the cause for these ladies having a “bad attitude”. They were simply frustrated with those who made their job difficult by not following procedures. Observing this interaction objectively, I was able to understand their frustration and actually sympathized with them.
I learned the things that irritated them and I avoided doing those things. I made sure that I followed procedures. I made it a point not to be demanding in my requests and always spoke in friendly and respectable tones. I was polite and courteous. If I had the time, I not only did the things I was suppose to do to make their job easier, but sometimes went a little further by helping them to do certain tasks when they were covered up.
Without thinking about it, I was applying a biblical principle known as “The Golden Rule”.
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets
The results of applying this biblical teaching were remarkable. You would have to know just how much these ladies disliked me to appreciate the magnitude of change in their attitude toward me. The change began as simply as not treating me as rudely as they had before. Then there was an occasional smile and eventually they were down right friendly. They joked with me, confided in me, and I began to get my orders for drawings first. On my birthday, I received TWO birthday cakes from that department.
I did nothing special to turn this situation around to such a dramatic extent. I simply applied the very simple teaching of Jesus found in the bible. I was lost at the time, yet the application of God’s word proved to be faithful. How much more could a child of God be blessed by consciously applying this teaching in their life?