Thursday, September 3, 2009

Meeting in the ladies room

At work, when there is an issue, we can usually resolve it fairly straightforwardly and easily. I send an email briefly explaining the issue that needs to be discussed, set up a meeting, draft an agenda, facilitate the conversation, keep the conversation on time and on-track, make agreements, send out meeting minutes so douchebags are held to task, and then move on. To the next issue, and the next...

Of course, it doesn't always work that way. Like, when there are real personality conflicts. Or when there are long-standing turf battles. Or anytime my boss gets involved. But generally, if there is a resolvable problem and no turf issues, that's how it goes.

So why the hell don't we do that in relationships?

Relationship conversations are THE WORST. And I have avoided them my entire life and in every relationship I have ever had for that reason. When there is an issue, it always stews and festers before anything happens. And then, one person breaks and catches the other person off guard. Off-guard person isn't ready for the meeting. They hadn't pulled out their file and looked at their notes. They gotta wing it, when what they really wanted to do was chill, drink a beer and touch your boobies.

And because there isn't an agenda or a facilitator, the conversation goes over here and over there, and back over here, then you re-discuss something you already talked about thirty minutes ago, then you go back over there, then you bring up something from three years ago, then you come back here... Before you know it, its taken you three hours to get to the root of the problem and figure out what to do about it: "I will try harder to wipe my toothpaste spit out of the sink". WTF? Three hours for that?! We should have agendas! And timelines! And meeting minutes, with action items "You said, in August 2009, that you would start shaving your big toe. Now do it!"

How can you possibly make progress without that kind of technique?

A couple weeks ago, we had our first relationship conversation. I wasn't ready for it. He wasn't ready for it. But, I had festered for four or five days, so I was ripe and ready to go when the subject came up. It was a fine conversation really. We laid the problems out. I told him how I felt. He told me how he felt and why. We agreed to not be douchebags and to talk about things when they bothered us (not 5 days later). It was one of the most grown up and honest conversations I have ever had with a boyfriend. I was quite proud. The issue was tiny, but, its always been difficult for me to be honest about even the tiny things, so, maybe there is hope for me after all.

Or maybe not, because as soon as we were done the conversation, I started thinking... "we are going to have to do this all the time. Oh god. I don't want to have to do this all the time. There has got to be a better way." Hence, relationship staff meetings. With an agreed upon agenda, and time limits for discussions and follow-up action items. And a parking lot for new issues we can't deal with.

And wine. Lots and lots of wine. Or maybe whiskey.

It will never happen, of course. But wouldn't it be nice sometimes if you could run your personal life like you run the office?

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