Saturday, August 29, 2009

Should they bite each other's heads off?

This is a story of an interpersonal conflict that could occur because of bad communication methods. I am writing this story from the point of view of Cecilia. How would you solve it if you were Cecilia?

Read on =)

Time/ place setting – The society for the preservation of animal welfare (PAW), NUS/ semester 1

Jane – Jane is the vice chairperson of the society. Her significant other is also in the committee.

Cecilia - Cecilia is the Secretary of the society. Like Jane, her significant other is in the committee.

It was the beginning of the semester. Cecilia and Jane as well as their significant others have just been selected to be part of the management committee (PAW). All of them knew each other from the previous semester although they have never really worked together.

Being a person with a corporate mindset, Jane was worried that having two couples in the same management committee would compromise professionalism.

Jane then asked Cecilia’s significant other to advise her to adhere to professionalism throughout the term. Cecilia became upset.

How Cecilia feels:

· Cecilia felt that she was not given enough trust to be professional enough.

· Cecilia also felt that it was quite an insult to her capabilities.

· Cecilia felt that Jane should have talked to her herself if she needs to advise him. Having a third party do it also showed that Jane was not behaving professionally herself.

· Because Cecilia’s significant other was the one doing the advising, she felt that he did not trust her to be professional too.

How Jane might have felt:

· She wanted to prevent anything bad from happening before it actually had a chance to happen

· She didn’t know how to broach the subject to Cecilia and thought that it will be better to let Cecilia’s significant other do the talking.

If you were Cecilia, what would you do? Cecilia is definitely hurt because her abilities were being doubted even before she could do anything to prove it.

What if she did show that she is unhappy about this but Jane ignored her? Should she still try to solve the problem (although Jane is clearly not interested in solving it) or should she do her job but ignore Jane?


  1. Hmm I think Cecilia should ask Jane out for lunch or something and should take this time to sort the matter out. Even if Jane appears to be oblivious to the problem. This is because a committee cannot function properly when there are cracks, no matter how minor they are.

    Cecilia should tell Jane truthfully about her feelings and ask Jane to explain the reason for her actions as well. Why is it that Jane cannot tell Cecilia directly but must go to her significant other. Of course Cecilia should broach the subject politely and not let Jane think that she is chastising her.

    If both parties are level headed I believe the problem can be solved.

  2. I totally agree with Cecilia. If Jane was trully professional, she should have approached Cecilia with her concerns directly. Jane seems to have created the type of problem that she wanted to avoid in the first place.

    On top of that, if Cecilia did indeed overtly show that she was unhappy , Jane should have taken charge of the situation and talked things out with Cecilia, like any good leader would. Ignoring the problem only serves to compound it.

    Having the courage to face and deal with problems directly and in a timely manner is the hallmark of all good leaders. From what I gather from your scenario, Jane does not quite fit that character.

    Since that is the case, Cecilia should then take charge and talk to Jane directly over the issue.

  3. Firstly, interesting scenario. It is pretty cool to have two couples being in the same committee! Haha. Alright, I shall be serious. :)

    If I were Cecilia, I would ask Jane out and talk things through with her, but prior to that, I would spend some time to reflect on the situation. I'd tell her clearly how I feel about what she did, and also address her concern by reassuring her that I am able to handle my job well and not allow my boyfriend to affect my work quality.

    Since Jane and I are not particularly good friends, my objective of the meetup would be to gently but firmly bring across my point that I can do my job well and that unless I have proven to be incapable, she should not have to doubt my ability.

    I believe for most, if not all of us, it does not feel good to be doubted by others on our abilities, and I feel that everyone should be given due respect for our capabilities unless we have really shown to be inapt at doing our job. With respect and an open, direct approach to addressing concerns, such misunderstandings can be avoided.

  4. Hey sorry for the late comment from me. Your scene looks complicated to me and it really took me much time to figure out what should I do if I were Cecilia.

    I have a different view from the rest who commented above. I think the most damaging part is Cecilia's significant other decided to transmit Jane's message. Let's call this guy Ken. Instead of just pass the message Ken should explained to Jane about Cecilia's characteristic. I believed Jane will be satisfied and Ken does not need to pass the message to Cecilia.

    Since this is not the case and apparently Jane is weak in handling this kind of matter, I agreed that Cecilia should ask Jane for a lunch or something to express her opinion.