When I started working for her, there was a clear demarcation between those who liked her, those who didn’t, and those somewhere in the middle.
As I witnessed her interactions with those aligned with her, I denounced her for having favorites, and told myself that I would never do that. I told myself that I was a professional, that she was not, and that I would never pick sides.
As time went by, though, and I found my relationship with my boss on a downward slope, I ended up spending more and more time with those who didn’t like her. I found myself joining in the gossip. I found myself complaining about her to people who also complained about her.
I had picked sides.
When my boss went to Africa for a month to volunteer, I was in charge, and one of the teachers, who was in leadership training, became my assistant principal.
I clearly remember the day when he said to me, “You know, if you were the Principal, I would love to do my internship here, but if you aren’t, I guess I will look elsewhere.”
I wish I could say that I chided myself for knowing what I had started, but I didn’t. I CELEBRATED. I had created a contingency of followers--people who wanted me to be the boss and not her. And, oh, did that feel good.
I loved knowing that some of the staff preferred me to her. I loved knowing that some of the staff thought that I would be a better leader than her. My EGO soaked it up and basked in the glory.
What I had unknowingly done, though, was drive a deeper wedge between myself and my boss.
When we resort to picking sides, when we resort to gossip, and when we resort to "us versus them" thinking, it only further escalates the issues. It doesn't help resolve or even transform the relationship or the conflict. It only exacerbates it.
Whether it be within your own home, within your extended family, within your larger community, or within the political landscape, celebrating being "better" than someone, or having "better" values, may feel good in the short-term, but will end up costing you in the long-term.
If you were to be truly honest with yourself, how is your behavior or simply your thinking contributing to your challenging situation?