Our leader began with these instructions: “Look in your handout folder. You will see the agenda on a pink sheet. I will not insult your intelligence by reading it to you.” Twenty colleagues did as they were told. It worked for them but not for me. I do not look or see or read the way they do.
Had the leader not noticed my Seeing Eye dog? Had no one told her I am blind? These were social workers after all, hypersensitive to the needs of others. They should have known better.
Our leader had said, “I will not insult your intelligence by reading…” Fine, insult me by making me feel small, conspicuous and inadequate. Damn it, had I not managed to get myself across town, through campus and into Room 410 to join this group? Just to feel like a rank outsider?
I gave myself a choice. I could either be the pissed off victim or try to engage. I raised my hand and asked for help. I didn’t like doing it, but it felt better than righteous indignation, no matter how righteous my indignation feels.
That night, at home, I scanned my print handouts until I heard “Evaluation.” After the question, “How can we make our program better?” I wrote, “You can value the uniqueness of your participants with special needs.” The next morning, I added, “I learned that I will benefit by making my needs known. I will ask for print material in advance via email. That way, I will be prepared to participate fully.”
There, damn it, I’ve reached a balance here. I’ve implied blame. That satisfies my pissed off victim side. I’ve accepted my part in the transaction. That satisfies my personal responsibility side.
Look at me. See how I manage conflict? Read all about it.