Coaching is a build-up process.
If someone is tearing you down or making you feel less-than, they are not coaching you. They are attempting to deconstruct you to better acclimate you to their nature and tolerances.
Criticism is not coaching
Last week, I was pulled into an impromptu meeting at 8:30am by my manager. He called it a “coaching” session, yet began by telling me I had gotten into a full-on argument with a client on the phone and was condescending, combative, and argumentative. I interjected with, “I did not argue with anyone.” He then told me I was being defensive and he wasn’t going to battle back and forth with me.
I’m rarely in the mood to be called names, but nonsense at 8:30am before coffee by someone who had none of my respect due to their lack of management skills made for a very succinct and direct rebuttal.
I didn’t appreciate having my character, personality and tone mischaracterized. Most definitely not in words commonly used to stereotype, demonize and dismiss Black Women. And absolutely not by the only Black Male manager on the open floor he was dressing me down on.
He didn’t appreciate me speaking up for myself. He actually said he was stunned at my response. Meaning he was stunned that I didn’t quietly accept what he called “criticism.”
He claimed that the caller had called back to complain. He said he had listened to the call and heard me sounding argumentative, condescending, combative and defensive. Because he seemed so surprised that my voice was calm throughout the call when he played it back for us both, I concluded that one of the white women sitting near to me flagged the call time because they took offense at my confidence (the caller had hung up while I was transferring her to a colleague). I did make comments about the call with the person I was transferring to after I realized the caller had hung up.
While the manager listened to the call for what seemed to be his first time, he said with surprise, “I agree with everything you’re saying. It’s clear she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” However, he eventually clung to my drawling the word, “Yes.” As a very condescending inflection.
He kept asking me, “You don’t think you’re being condescending?”
I kept replying adamantly, “No, I don’t.”
I’ve been in customer service for 30 years. Birthed and bred in McDonald’s customer care where the customer is always right and when they’re not, we refer back to rule #1, smiles are free and listed as such on the menu. I matured on executive floors with extremely entitled personalities and received compliments on my professionalism, discretion and diplomacy throughout every level of service.
The only people in all these years to ever call me “defensive” are who were set on diminishing and silencing me. Managers and teachers who didn’t want to be questioned or corrected. Those who didn’t want any standouts or freethinkers in their ranks.
The 8:30am critical “coaching” session is now viewed as a marker in my life.
One of my favorite self-esteem boosting quotes in high school and college was, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” by Eleanor Roosevelt.
One of my favorite affirmations when I began Bible Study years ago was, “This is my Bible. I am who it says I am.”
There have been many times where I have simply bit my tongue to allow a conversation to end with no fuel from me. Most of those times I would ruminate on what was being said and come back the next day with a calm measured rebuttal or follow-up questions. The time I took to think was also a cool down period. For most of the last twenty years, I’ve had managers I’ve highly respected… with a job I loved at a company I wanted to stay with. It may go without saying, but I’ll say it: my former managers did not call me names. If they needed to correct behavior, they spoke their mind plainly – told me what the issue was, what my actions were and what they should have been for their desired outcome.
If I go further back in life, there were very few points during my formative years when I spoke up for myself. I looked to my parents and elders hoping they would speak on my behalf. At an early adolescent age, I realized my parents were not interested in defending me with their words. They didn’t really value words as defense or guidance. Mostly because they stayed in scrappy survival mode.
In my early teens, I began to actively reject words people tried to forced into me. My way of rejecting at the time was telling myself I was not what they were calling me. I would then tell myself who and what I was. It was an internal process.
Back to now. Here I am in my late forties, finally speaking up in the moment, telling someone they can keep their negative words about me. All while he’s basically begging me to agree with him that I’m a difficult and unpleasant person.
Honestly, as unpleasant as the experience was, it is an absolutely amazing illustration of how the enemy cannot destroy us without our complicity. What is someone trying to get you to agree to that is counter to who you are?
He pseudo-manager fired me. Of course, he didn’t tell me directly. I got a call from my agency thirty minutes before the end of my shift. He told them the reason was because I couldn’t handle criticism. I told the rep, “That’s a lie. I literally just finished an hour of coaching with another manager who knows how to speak to people and got a good amount of guidance from him.”
That being said, I don’t think there’s been anywhere God has allowed me to stay that did not benefit my spirit. If a place is turning me dark, He cuts the cord. I always think I can hold on for my material goals, but my goals have never held any weight with His will and plan.
Good coaching makes all-stars out of novices
I ran track and trained in field sports throughout my youth. I played basketball throughout high school and into college. I understand teams and individual performance. I appreciate coaching and training.
I started playing basketball at the age of fourteen. Prior to trying out for the freshmen squad, I had never held a basketball. I was made to feel very awkward in my skin. I was tall, skinny and often tripped over my long limbs. My family called me clumsy and uncoordinated. I believed them.
During the first two years of high school I lived with an aunt. During freshmen year, shortly after I joined the basketball team, she attended one practice game. Afterwards she told me she wasn’t going to bother coming again since I couldn’t play anyway. She never saw me improve. She never witnessed the athlete I developed into. She wasn’t a coach.
My coach didn’t believe what my aunt said I was.
My three coaches turned me into an all-star by junior year. Senior year I was co-captain of the Girls Varsity Basketball Team.
I know what good coaching will produce. Good coaching creates results previously unimaginable.
Praise God always. We don’t have to know or see anything as long as He is in charge of our lives. Give thanks and be blessed as you go.
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