Monday, December 04, 2006

respect gained

*Those who didn't read my post about 'Steven', my karate instructor, would be best to stop reading now.... this will bore you silly*

If you're still reading now, I'll try to reward you by being succinct!

Remember how 'Steven' was being rude and aggressive in classes? What I didn't mention in my story was the fact that 'Lisa', Steven's sister, also trains at the same dojo. And after Steven's particularly foul-mouthed outburst early last week, Lisa cornered me in the changing room and asked me what I thought about how he was acting.

Keeping in mind that Lisa was Steven's sister, I merely remarked that I thought Steven was trying to ensure we all respected him as our teacher. I added that I understood it would be hard to instruct a class of such a diverse age range, but agreed Steven was being too aggressive in his manner. I told Lisa that I was considering speaking to Steven on another occasion, when he had calmed down a bit.

For two days, I thought and thought about what I might say, how exactly I might word what I wanted to convey, without causing offence. Then I turned up for training again, and Steven was standing right beside the sign-in book.

"Hi, Steven", I greeted him.

Without any preliminaries, Steven replied, "What you said to Lisa - I completely agree."

My mind spinning (wondering what on earth Lisa actually said!), I managed a "Huh?"

Steven reiterated, "What you said to Lisa - you're right. I agree".

Not one to think on my feet, I mumbled, "Oh....OK!". I smiled, bowed in to class and lined up with everyone.

The class went well. Steven was warmer, friendlier, but still ran a tight ship and made sure we all listened and trained hard.

I went home, still amazed at Steven's response. Because I don't know about you, but when faced with criticism, I don't think I have ever simply stated, "You're right, I agree completely." If I manage to swallow my pride enough to accept what's been said, I will agree and apologise - but always with at least one small justification. Like, " Yeah, I was grumpy, I'm sorry. It's just that.. (blah blah- insert excuse of any kind eg fatigue, worry, illness, headache)".

Steven made no excuses, didn't rationalise, didn't give explanations - he openly acknowledged an error, agreed with a criticism, and changed his approach.

My respect for Steven has grown immeasurably. I've also realised that it's all too easy to criticise (like I did), but much more difficult to accept criticism gracefully.

Ironic, isn't it - I started off all indignant, thinking Steven needed to 'learn a thing or two'. Yet really, I'm the one who has learnt something new.

Life is full of fascinating twists and turns.


shellyC said...

Glad things have turned out well with Steven and your Karate will be more enjoyable.

Oh and thanks for the lovely comment on my blog!!! We really should get together once!!!!

Remiman said...

and Amen.

Motherkitty said...

All's well that ends well. So, "Steven" is now acting gentlemanly in class. Good for you for speaking to his sister. At least you didn't have to confront him face-to-face and the matter is settled. Let's hope he continues on the path to congeniality.

Kerri said...

That is good news Jelly. It must've been a pleasant surprise. Steven obviously had time to think over the incident and his bad behaviour. Glad he showed some good character.
I hope all goes well from now on and your Karate class becomes enjoyable once again.

John Cowart said...

Part of your charm is that even though your are already confident and competent, you continue to grow and learn.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Well that's good that the matter was resolved so easily and without excuses although I am also surprised that he didn't offer one for his behavior...but case closed.

susan said...

Bummer, I was anticipating to hear how you whooped up on him and taught him a lesson...

Oh, well, I guess your way is okay, too!

(just kidding hehe)

Glad you are enjoying your class again!

T. said...

Glad to hear it turned out well.

And who says an old dog can't learn new tricks? :)

jellyhead said...

Hang on, T, just exactly who is the 'old dog' in this scenario??!! (because I'm guessing it's not the baby-faced 24-year-old!!)

....huffs off feigning hurt feelings....

:) hee hee!

Tanya said...

What a great result.

And congratulations to Steven for being big enough to not only accept the criticism, but to make an effort to change.

Franny said...

I dunno Jelly, just for fun, you should key his car...

Though, yeah, don't get caught!

Alice said...

I think the fact that your criticism was CONSTRUCTIVE rather than just CRITICAL made the difference. Steven was able to focus on the positive aspects and was therefore more willing to deal with the negative ones.

Just one more instance of why you are so beloved by your patients and friends alike.

meggie said...

What a positive post.
Good luck with the future!!

Mimi said...

Maybe he thanked you because he recognizes that he has a problem and wants to change. Sometimes it is important to speak up and sometimes not. The hard part is knowing when to do what. Looks like you made the right choice.


Stomper Girl said...

I liked this story! I think the way you couched your concerns so kindly must have made an impact on the way he dealt with it.

I (veeeery gently) backed into a guy's car once in full view of him and just stood there utterly abject and fully apologetic and I still remember how in the end it took his anger away completely! Lack of actual damage helped there too!