i had to confront not one, but two people today. ( as a background, confrontations have historically been avoided or handled very meekly by me. it's not my forte but this past summer i finished the book: asserting yourself
you see i had been enlisted by a gal i know, we'll call her gal #1, to help out with food preparations for a party. i spent a significant amount of time, money, and energy into helping prepare some foods for this party. i was told what to make, with what ingredients, and how to even slice up the food to bring. i follow the directions to the letter. i show up at the party with all my food only to find there is a tremendous amount of food there and hardly any room for what i'd prepared. somehow some space was made for my food but after the party (that lasted a couple hours in hot weather) i see that only a quarter of my food was eaten. and very little in general of the food was eaten simply because so much of it was brought. i had to toss away the food since it was no good anymore after the party.
i decided to raise this issue with gal #1 today with my main goal of suggesting that next time she ask her guests to rsvp and make better estimates of who would attend. using the assertiveness technique suggested in the book, i approached gal #1 at an event today. i told her i enjoyed the party but i had a complaint. it went along the lines of:
"i had to throw away much of the food i brought to the party yesterday. there was a lot of food at the party."
gal #1: (shocked) "why was the food thrown away??"
"it was a really hot day and the food was just sitting out. i didn't think it could be eaten past that point so it had to be thrown out."
gal #1: it could still be eaten i would think..
"maybe it's just me but i don't think it's good to eat the food after such a long time. next time could you set up an rsvp sort of thing so that we don't have this much food?"
gal #1: actually gal #2 was in charge here and didn't want to do rsvp's.
"oh i didn't know that. i came to you since you're the one that requested the food."
gal #1: "no, i was just asked to find people to bring food and i even suggested to gal #2 at the beginning that we should do rsvps! maybe talk to gal #2"
(this ending was rather unexpected for me and i think somewhere along here gal #1 got rather emotional in her speech and i saw it appropriate to reach out and pat her arm. she didn't react and later i questioned whether that helped/hurt this whole confrontation.)
i look for gal #2...i find her. i ask if she has a few minutes to talk about the party yesterday. we step aside from where she had been talking. i repeat my description of the problem.
gal #2: well it was gal #1 who wanted all the extra food. i had an estimate of who would be there and about how much they would eat but gal #1 went ahead and found extra people to bring food anyway. i actually threw out a lot of my food yesterday too.
(what i really "saw" was that these two people had conflicting ideas about how to organize this party and no wonder this kind of thing happened. i mentally decided to drop this issue. i suggested the rsvp to gal #2 and then made some excuse to leave the conversation.. this issue just seemed bigger than me.)
looking back, i wish i described how all that hard work going to waste made me FEEL.. that is an important part of assertiveness. i kept my intro to the problem much more brief and assumed that merely by bringing up the issue, they would know how i felt. i also wonder if next time i should push the issue further and say that both gals are pointing the blame at each other! i just didn't see that as appropriate at that point in time. i am proud that i spoke up and that at least my suggestion was heard by both gals.