I went to get my car washed yesterday. The car was going to get washed after almost 10 months, 10 months of car parties, a 2-year-old going for drives, a lot of eating, drinking & dropping things, long-distance car rides, basically it was battered and the insides looked little less than a dump.
The garage I went to was a big one right at the corner of a road and it looked pretty professional from the outside, unlike somewhere you can’t even see the space for parking the car. They had two workmen, one was attending to another client, the other one came and helped me park the car and began his thing. The main guy ‘seth’ hadn’t interacted with me so far but right before the process was to finish he swooped in and made a top-up sale for getting the car polished as well, interior as well as the black bits on the side and front of the car, the other car had also gotten it done and he took that opportunity to show an example of how good it feels. The sale was done, he piled the instruction to the workman and disappeared swiftly once again.
As soon as the workman finished the interior polish I heard him mutter out loud that it is raining and polishing outside won’t even make sense, I heard him complain about this out loud to no one in particular at first and then his colleague and then me. When the complaint reached me my first question was, why did his boss say it will be done then if it can’t and more important than that, why didn't he, the same complaining guy, complain then? Or say anything at all?! “Arey maidam wo seth hai wo kuch bhi bolte hai” “He is the boss he says whatever he wants”.
I dealt with an extremely similar incident at work just the day before. One of the team members who I personally deeply admire had been delaying all deadlines, I had a personal chat with her 2–3 weeks back and she confided that she is burnt out and just not able to deal. To which I had told her to speak to the boss and let her know because it is only fair to say things upfront BEFORE things are delayed giving the boss enough time to find alternatives and help both her and the committed work. 2–3 weeks later and she had still not spoken to the boss, nevertheless, she would show up to every weekly catch up without having done the work and would assign ‘today’ as the deadline to whatever was pending. Except, I had been hearing this for at least 3 weeks now and some things had gotten themselves assigned the ‘today’ deadline for 3 straight weeks and were still pending.
I spoke heart to heart with her and tried to understand where the problems were. Her problem was that she was having to report to two different people for the same work and both had differing opinions, she was not speaking up because it won’t be considered or understood anyway. So she chose to keep quiet, be on the sidelines and be massively delayed with all deadlines because most of the times she didn't know what they wanted her to do, she was always guessing this and in the process getting super demotivated + delayed in everything she did.
When her ‘seth’ asked her in front of the client to polish the car, she felt/knew that the exterior could not be because of the rain but yet didn't say anything right away, but later she complained about it, took a lot of time, didnt do a good job of it anyway and then blamed the ‘seth’ for being unreasonable.
The seth may be unreasonable a 100 times, it still remains your duty the 101st time to speak your truth while there still is time.
If the car guy truly believed that polishing in rain was a wasted effort he should’ve said something and if he didn’t then the client is the last person to complain to, instead, he should’ve just gotten on with the job (however fruitless) because in that moment his only mandate is to provide good service. That is literally the only brief of his job, even if his efforts would lead to momentary results. Complaining later can only point to him being reluctant to put the effort in and that became apparent when I surveyed the interior of the ‘cleaned’ car. There was dirt in every nook and corner, it was clear that he was not interested in delivering even the bare minimum of the mandate given to him. What was he going to do with the saved effort & time (which honestly, wasn’t saved because he ended up taking 2 whole hours to deliver less than mediocre quality of work)?
The troubled colleague was not saving time or effort in any way instead the ambiguity and lack of direction were leading her into a whole different loop which would make her spend double the time on the project with no apparent results. Shortsightedness was preventing her from seeing that the only person who was losing credibility in this transaction was her and that whatever she thought she would get from this entire situation, being dissolved off the eventual blame was not one of it. Yes, your boss may not have seen what you saw but you are the one who kept quiet and hence committed to delivering (with your silence). The word given here was your own.
Keeping quiet is not an act of bravery or victimhood, it is a sign of poor sight and misaligned vision of what it will eventually lead to.
You are not just betraying yourself, you are also betraying all the other people who are part of the team, a team who collectively vowed to do the job. A single broken spoke has the capability of bringing the whole wheel down and for that the spoke would be single-handedly responsible.
What is the alternative to this? You mean alternative to doing the job well now that you committed to it or at least objecting to the things you don’t agree with? The alternative is plain simple, if you are not feeling it, don’t do it. Don’t commit falsely, don’t betray those around you, because, you may be a great person dealing with a lot of stress but using that as the base to add to other people’s stresses and making other people look bad, is just going to add to the misery you are already feeling.
Don’t not betray people for their good, instead don’t betray them for your own good, so you are not left wondering why you are not able to break the loop and are able to perform.
Start by voicing what you think, start by stepping back from what you can’t, start by asking for help, start by being vulnerable, start by thinking long term effects, stop by not trying to be a martyr.