A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. Proverbs 12:16
Mumbling to herself, Sarah anxiously yanked open the drawers of the antique desk her father left her in his will two years ago.
“Where are those stupid notes,” she muttered. “I left them right here. I don’t understand. Adam?”
Almost as if he anticipated being summoned, Adam quickly stepped into Sarah’s office. “Yes?” he said.
“Have you seen my notes for the presentation today?” Sarah asked.
“Yes they’re in the recycle bin by my desk. You…,” he replied.
“They’re where? Why in the world did you throw them away?” she said, clearly annoyed and staring intently at him. “Why would you do something that ignorant? I need those notes!”
Sarah stormed by him and out of the office toward Adam’s workspace. “And who said you could take things off out of my office any way?” she yelled back at him, now rummaging through the over-filled, blue plastic bin
“Sarah, if you’d let me explain,” he said.
“I don’t have time for your explanations, Adam. The presentation is in less than an hour, and I need my notes,” she said. “I can’t believe you’d do something this stupid, especially at a time like this.”
Adam stood stunned in the doorway to Sarah’s office, his mouth partially hanging open while she continued the verbal assault. He had never seen her act this way, especially with him. Working as her executive assistant for going on a year now, he had never seen her treat anyone this way. Something was clearly troubling her, he thought.
Sarah had now emptied the entire recycle bin onto the floor. On her knees, she rifled through the mound, wadding up and tossing individual pieces to the side. “This is ridiculous. I don’t see them anywhere.”
“They’re in your email!” Adam burst out. His words hung in the air like heavy, white smoke on a humid evening. Silence overtook the room. Sarah had stopped rummaging, and Adam just stood there waiting on her to say something.
“They’re where?” she said.
“In your email,” Adam replied. “I typed them up like you asked me to do yesterday, and I emailed them to you this morning, like you asked.”
Sarah still hadn’t moved. While she felt relieved by this news, she also felt foolish. Here she was the CEO of an up-and-coming marketing firm, rummaging through the trash after insulting someone she had grown to trust and count on.
“Would you like me to print them for you? If it helps, I’ll gladly print them for you,” Adam said, as Sarah lifted herself to her feet.
About ten seconds passed before Sarah spoke.
“Yes,” she then said, staring at the hardwood floor as she wiped her gray skirt neat again. “Yes, that would be good, Adam.”
Sarah then scooted past him again back into her office, sat down, put on her glasses and went back to work.
If you missed part one of this story, Mark and the farmer, click here.
Have you ever experienced or witnessed a situation like this as a leader or a subordinate? How did or would you handle it?
Could you overlook this type of insult at work and forgive the other person?
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