This week I had fun observing a mock trial in which my daughter participated. It was an amazing experience for the students as they had to create their own briefs, arguments, questions, and even personas as they played both witnesses and attorneys. They had an experienced judge who presided over the case and gave them both a real taste for the courtroom experience and helpful feedback. The students had the opportunity to first play the side of the prosecution and then to reverse course and take the defense role on the same case. Both times, there was a mock ruling in favor of the defense. What fun!
If only life had times when we could do a “mock trial”. Wow- – that would have saved me a lot of sleepless nights! The ability to test something out, i.e. to see how something sounded or played out in a “safe” environment before being lit up with neon lights, would have been so beneficial! Years ago, I had to make the hard decision to let go of an employee I managed. Prior to the excusing him, I had repeatedly given counsel over the same issue. The situation had finally come to the point that I dreaded; I was going to have to let him go from the company. I had assumed, wrongly, that he understood that this was the inevitable outcome – that he was prepared for the conversation because I had repeatedly stated that he couldn’t keep making the same error due to a government regulation by which we were bound. As I said, I wrongly assumed. That was the day I almost got a black eye. And in truth – he was justified. I had not been clear enough in my communication. I can tend to avoid conflict, and instead of being clear, I was beating around the bush about what would happen if the error didn’t stop. Instead, it was a shock and left him reeling. I felt horrible. No mock trial here.
As adults, we don’t get mock trials. Adults must take responsibility for their actions and, hopefully, learn from their mistakes. I know I learned a big lesson that day and changed how I defined being “kind” to another. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle with avoiding conflict. But I have learned the hard way that treating people with grace doesn’t mean taking the easy route. Leading with a conscience means “doing right” by people even if there is a personal cost. However, as adults, we do have options to do our own “mock trial”. Utilizing a consultant who can help bounce off ideas, play out scenarios, or brainstorm more effective responses for workplace situations is an adult version of a mock trial. The right consultant also provides a great check on whether we are really leading with a conscience or just pursuing our own best interest.
Let me know if you would like to talk about your own “mock trial” situation for which you may need assistance. I am always happy to grab coffee and the first meeting is always free.
Until next time,