QUESTION: I overheard a conversation in a restroom at work that I wish I hadn’t heard. The individuals talking thought they were alone and I was in a back stall. They were discussing one of our bosses who they don’t like and were considering writing a negative letter about him to the corporate office. I know the boss they were talking about and know him to be honest, hard working and productive. I also know he doesn’t allow any shenanigans and these two (women) spend more time in conversation, checking their cellphones, etc. and he’s constantly having to remind them that they are at work and to save all of that for after work.
My question is, should I tell the boss?
If you have an HR department or HR manager, it is always best to bring things like this to them. They can counsel you and even let the parties involved know your concerns anonymously.
If there is not an HR department where you work or you are not comfortable talking to them, you may want to let this be. You did not eavesdrop intentionally and inserting yourself may do more harm than good. You are not lying if you don’t say anything.
If you feel you must say something, consider talking to the employees first. Maybe you can tell them you unintentionally overheard their conversation and apologize for not speaking up at the time to let them know you were there. You may want to ask them if they would consider talking to the boss or letting you talk to him to address their concerns before they write the letter.
However, the outcome of something like this often depends on how the person will take and use the information, which you cannot know for certain.
If you think the boss will handle it well and listen to the employees concerns, great. If there is potential for conflict if you or they tell the boss, you could be making things worse.
As a secular Buddhist, I often find the wisdom of this tradition useful. It is said (and I am paraphrasing) that numerous factors should be considered before one speaks. Is what you are saying true, kind and helpful? Does it bring about goodwill? Is it spoken at the proper time?
Since I don’t know those involved and can’t tell you specifically what to do, my best advice is to consider all these things carefully in order to make a reasoned decision.
Workplace politics can be difficult. I understand how you might feel loyalty to the boss in this situation but I don’t think it’s a good idea to act on something overheard in the restroom. The two women speaking may have just been letting off steam and never act on their plan. They might have even known you were there and have been pranking you.
My advice is to continue to do your job to the best of your ability and let management handle employee discipline. I think if the two talkers do send a complaint to the corporate office it is likely to backfire on them, particularly if there is documentation of them being warned about their behavior in the past. You can avoid a similar dilemma in the future if you make some noise when you hear others enter the restroom.
QUESTION: The violence in the world and here at home locally is overwhelming to me and I’m concerned for my children, grandchildren and babies coming into the world. I’m a Christian, go to church regularly, and pray for world peace, but it seems God isn’t listening. Every day I read Matthew 7, which tells us, “Ask and it is given.” I know I’m not the only one who is praying for world peace, but I would really like to see it happen in my lifetime. I’m 83.
Are we supposed to work this out on our own without God’s help? This appears to be an impossibility!
~ Peace Loving Granny
Dear Peace Loving Granny,
First of all, bless you for praying for peace! And I urge you to keep on praying for peace until you die. Unfortunately, from our point of view, God works on God’s own timetable, so I’m going to guess that the world peace you are hoping and praying for will not happen in your lifetime or mine, either. True, Matthew 7 would seem to suggest that if you ask you’ll receive. But Matthew 7 doesn’t say when you’ll receive! Not to be flip, but we in the faith community have been praying for peace at least as far back as Isaiah, who may have died in 701 B.C. But I love that verse from Isaiah 2:4: “…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
While it was a wonderful hope in Isaiah’s time, it still remains a wonderful hope in our time.
Granny, it seems to me that those of us who believe, who trust God, need to have the faith of our fathers and spiritual ancestors. Those who went before us trusted God to make all things new, and they trusted so much that they believed God’s will would be done, even if they never lived to see it.
Martin Luther King understood that idea that faith is the expectation of things yet unseen. He said, “I won’t live to see the Promised Land, but my people will live to see the Promised Land.” He was, of course, “channeling” Moses, who got to see the Promised Land, but he didn’t get to go into it.
Granny, this faith ain’t for sissies! It’s for people who trust that God’s will will be done, but not until God says so. Please keep praying and keep the faith – but it’s in God’s hands as to when he’s going to fulfill Isaiah’s (and your) dream.
The Rev. Skip Lindeman
Dear Peace Loving Granny,
Let me start by working to redirect your thinking that God “isn’t listening.” I encourage you to refresh your mind and ruminate on what the Bible teaches about facing times such as these. I offer just a scant few to start you off on your own private journey: Romans 12:2: “Be ye transformed by the renewal of your mind…”, Matthew 9:29: “According to your faith, be it unto you…”, Matthew 4:4: “Do not judge by appearances, but by every word that precedes out of the mouth…”
Sacred texts teach that God is closer to us than our own breath and is omni-present. The spirit of God can be found working through the hearts and minds of mankind and throughout nature, which is God’s very nature. Great change is happening all around and, as trite as it may sound, it’s always darkest before the dawn. Christ-centered people have to keep in mind that we all have the gift of free will, so the transformational change many are praying for is not likely to happen as quickly as we want to see. Prayers cast by faith do bear fruit, but in God’s perfect timing, a time that is out of our control. Who better to have charge over timing than the Almighty?
Spiritually speaking, in my estimation we are at that time in life with our spirituality where the rubber needs to meet the road as they say. To actively live with a deep sense of abiding trust in God while in the midst of all that is happening in life – this is active faith! The world daily offers every reason to be fearful; wars and rumors of war, corruption all the way up to the highest levels of government, violence in the streets and the weather extremes, to name a few. It is up to the faithful to turn away from all we see and activate God’s word and promises within us and around us while enduring the changes.
You might find it empowering to recall on what grounds you chose to be Christian. This reflection may serve to fan the flame of conviction over your faith. To look around and judge by appearances easily corrupts faith and can cause one to consider for a moment that something else could actually be mightier than God.
I believe with all my heart that God honors our faith. Through all of life’s turmoil there is always that light of guidance and protection to follow for the one who steadfastly and expectantly calls to it and looks for it. We can also provide this light for others as we pray for them in earnest.
With regard to peace, Jesus stated, John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful…” When we truly trust that our prayers are heard and are now included as an integral part of the grand cosmic scheme of God’s good, we find His peace and make it our own. Fear and faith cannot occupy the same space within our hearts. Feeling fearful tells you that faith has left the building. Faith on the other hand feels confidently peaceful, like a warm blanket.
Peace be with you.
Kim Winders, RScP