Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Which I Confess My Lack of Qualifications for an Ambassadorship

Diplomacy is not my strong suit.

I try to assess situations fully before reacting. I am (frequently) tactful. I don’t break confidences. I can keep my mouth shut if asked or when absolutely necessary. But if I think someone has been treated unfairly, my instinct is to say so, and not necessarily quietly.

Let's say, for instance, someone loses his job. Layoffs happen, yes. I get that. I’ve been laid off before. But unless the company is going out of business all together, a layoff can be seen as “You didn’t have the skills to make it in the new organization.” Even if the person let go sees it more as an opportunity, a gift, even, there is still an element of “There’s nothing you have to offer that we value enough to keep you here.” (But perhaps, for today at least, I am neither diplomat nor natural optimist.)

Now, when I know this person to be possessed of a keen intellect; a quickness of understanding that makes it as easy for him to absorb new information and spot new connections as it is for him to learn a new language; boundless loyalty; an engaging personality; and unflagging enthusiasm and determination when it comes to improving morale and to promoting the name and reputation of his organization, I think it quite natural that I get a little, what’s the word . . . pissy, when a person of this caliber, my friend, is let go.

But of course, as stunned and irritated as I am, I am compelled to admit that this organization he is exiting is still a remarkable one with an important mission, and I am fully aware that both he and they are better off for the association. I also recognize that he was fairly compensated and that he still has good friends there who are going to miss him, so I’m trying to frame it as less “How could they not recognize what they were losing?” and more “How nice of them to let someone else benefit from his talent and abilities.”

So no ambassadorship for me, but I am trying.

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