The other side of the coin

We do not like our new boss! He is hard-hearted and controlling. His style of leadership is a big disappointment, especially given the positive working climate we enjoyed under the former leadership. Can you please do something? Many years ago I received this complaint from employees of one of our branches, whom I supervised during my time as HR manager of a manufacturing and marketing company. So I decided to board a plane and visit the branch with the hope of settling the conflict between the new leader and his staff.

An entirely different picture emerged when I met with management and employees. The truth was that the leader's approach was completely new compared to his predecessor, but he was by no means the terrible person he was described by his co-workers. However, he expressed great concern about the growth and development of the company and was frustrated with the negative reactions so soon after his arrival.

On the other hand, I was able to understand the difficulties that the staff had. They tried to get used to the new direct leadership style that seemed very strange to them. He had very quickly introduced a rather unpopular but more efficient and effective system and performance standards. The whole thing happened very fast and maybe a bit premature. While the previous leader was a bit more relaxed, productivity was down because of old methods.

It is needless to say that the situation calmed down within a few months. Respect and appreciation for the new boss grew slowly and it was encouraging to see work morale and performance increase.

Both sides were right

This particular episode taught me an important lesson about people who relate to other people. The irony of this potential explosion scenario is this: both parties were right and both had to learn to deal with new things and situations. To approach each other, with a spirit of reconciliation, that made all the difference. The tendency to form opinions about individuals, families, and groups because one belongs to one side of the story, or gets convincing views from a third party, can often lead to tormenting relationship issues.

Proverbs 18,17 tells us: Everyone is right in their case first; but if the other man has a say, it is true.

The theologian Charles Bridges (1794-1869) wrote about the verse in his commentary on the proverbs: Here we are warned not to justify ourselves to others ... and to be blind to our mistakes. Thereby we are able to put our own thing in a strong light; and sometimes, almost unconsciously, casting a shadow on it, which would create a balance on the other side, or even skipping it altogether. It is difficult to reproduce facts and circumstances with perfect accuracy when our own name or our own thing is concerned. Our own cause may come first and appear right, but according to the proverbs, only be right until another side of the coin is heard.

Irreparable damage

The tendency to draw conclusions because one has heard a very compelling side of the coin can be irresistible. Especially if it is a friend or someone who shares the same views of life as you have yourself. One-sided feedback of this kind has the potential to cast a dark shadow on relationships. For example, they tell a close friend of the little dictator they have as their new boss and cause a lot of trouble in their lives. The tendency for them to turn their own thing so that they stand in a good light will be very great. Your friend then forms an adulterated opinion about your supervisor and will sympathize with them and the things they are going through. There is one more danger: that he shares his misinterpreted truth with others.

The potential for an adulterated version of the truth to spread like wildfire is very real and can cause irreparable damage to the reputation and character of a person or group of people. We live in an age when all sorts of stories come to light through the dark, or worse, find their way through the internet or social networks. Once it is public, it is unfortunately visible to everyone and can no longer be virtually undone.

The English Puritans of the 16. And 17. In the 19th century, proverbs described 18,17 as a judgment of love and emphasized the importance of creating an atmosphere of grace in relationships. Taking the initiative with a sincere desire and in a humble spirit to understand all perspectives in a conflict is absolutely essential to reestablish relationships. Yes, it takes courage! But the advantage of mutual respect, edification and strengthening healing can not be overstated. Experienced mediators and pastors generally try to do everything possible to bring together all the opposing parties. By doing so, they foster the possibilities of expressing one's or his own's every thing in the presence of the other.

James 1,19 gives us the following advice: You should know, my dear brothers: every human being is quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to angry.

In his article The Pillow of Grace, Pastor William Harrell encourages the Immanuel Presbyterian Church to recognize and respect the cushion of grace that our Redeemer applied to all relationships. This sin factor distorts our judgment and discolors our motives, rendering us unable to perceive the whole truth in our personal relationships. Therefore, we are not only required to be true in our relationships, but truly to be in love (Eph 4,15).

It is therefore important to be careful when we hear or read about other people's seemingly bad things. Therefore, let us look at both sides of the coin in our responsibility before coming to hasty conclusions. Find the facts and, if possible, take the time to speak with everyone involved.

To reach out to others in the power of love and to listen seriously to understand their side of the coin is the epitome of incredible grace.

by Bob Klynsmith


pdfThe other side of the coin