“She is smart, “declares the Christian Monitor. “She is learned in the law. And she has the ability to function well under extreme pressure. She’s also funny.”
What Elena Kagan is not, apparently, is someone who talks too much, divulges secret agendas, and discloses her views on undecided issues that may be facing the Supreme Court over the next few decades.
This suggests a strange yet interesting dichotomy for most of us who communicate every day at work. What do we disclose when we are interviewed for a job? How much information do we share with co-workers on controversial policies or procedures? When do I state my opinion? And when is it better to do the side-step shuffle – as many senators describe Kagan’s behavior. She is accused of choosing ones words too carefully, saying just enough about a point of view without telegraphing how she might vote in the future.
Have you ever faced a similar dilemma at work?
Many decades ago when I running for chairperson of an English department at a Los Angeles community college, I had to vote on a particular controversial issue. Hard to believe this caused a fist fight at a senate meeting, but here was the battle: Should we ditch the one year grammar program and replace it with a tutorial writing program that would eliminate the use of grammar exercises and instruction?
In other words, do we seal the fate of two instructors who built this program from scratch and taught it for over a dozen years? If their program disappears, they will have to teach other classes, transfer to another college, and/or retire
The vote naturally impacted my future because I was up for re-election as chairperson. If I voted in favor of keeping the traditional grammar program, many teachers would boycott my nomination. And if I voted against the program, two very valuable and sometimes brilliant instructors would probably do everything in their power to undermine my authority, once I was elected.
Yes, it was a secret ballot, but as you know, in small departments, there are no secrets.
Do I side-step the issue and do a Kagan-esque dance that would keep me neutral (and keep my department guessing)? Or, should I make my views known so I establish my perspective, risking my future as a college administrator?
What do we learn from these recent Supreme Court nomination proceedings and how might this influence the way we communicate with our boss and our co-workers?
To find out what I did – and hear Dr. Brian’s reaction – (we rarely ever agree) —- tune into the Insultant/Consultant Radio Show this July 4th at 9:30 AM (PST) Sunday morning