He may have missed the work that I did, but I’m sure he didn’t miss my input at staff meetings. I’m talking about one of my old bosses who consistently wrote on my evaluations something like this: “Rhonda is a good worker, but she has to learn the times to contain her thoughts or phrase them in a more diplomatic way.” He said this because I didn’t hold my tongue when he used all types of euphemisms to discuss problems we were having with other departments or even the president of the college. I would raise my hand and say, “Mr. Man doesn’t want to say, but” and proceed to make the situation plain. I would tell it like it was. I would keep it real. But I was real out of bounds; I had crossed the line. I would usurp my boss’ authority.
Mr. Man had decided to be diplomatic when talking about colleagues and his superior, and I decided that his approach was incorrect. We didn’t need anyone tiptoeing around the problems, I thought. We needed someone strong enough to lay it all out so there would be no confusion. And my attitude was that if my boss wouldn’t do it, I would. Maybe I was right about the need to be more straightforward, but I had no right to take over the meeting when I wasn’t asked to do so. As a subordinate, this is the wrong type of control. I needed to stay in my place (Ouch!) until given permission (Double ouch!!!) to leave. This was not the way I operated, and sometimes it’s still not the way I operate though I know it’s what God commands (Romans 13:1-3; 1 Timothy 2:12). This is yet another reason that I say I am a (recovering) strong black woman.
Copyright 2009 By Rhonda J. Smith