Dear Marshall, I’m a mailman who is nearing retirement. I am trying to find ways to more strongly celebrate my career. My boss and I usually get along. But in spite of this, every day for the past 15 years I have served him a dish of crap, and he has served one back to me. We’ve both been eating crap for 15 years! Our “breakfast of crapions” occurs when I estimate to him how much time I will need to deliver my route, and when he angrily disagrees with my estimate. This turns into mutually-felt tension, and occasional huge arguments. I’ve grown worried over this crap buffet, because I need to know that I’m capable of sustaining fulfilling relationships even during adversity. When I look back on my career, I want to know that I learned from the confrontations that are a daily part of my career, and that they helped me grow in my ability to make any relationship fulfilling and sustainable. Recently I listened to an audio recording of one of your seminars from back in 2000. You discussed with your audience “memnoons” and “mitzvahs”, and how to receive a request as a blessing or wonderful gift. One thing you said was that you’ve noticed that when you receive requests as crap, then when you make requests you tend to give them as if they’re crap as well. You said that for this reason, you try to receive all requests as wonderful gifts. (However, you also blamed the “jackal postal delivery service” lol). This hit home to me, because I recognized the same tendency in myself. I decided to try your idea out on my boss. I began to treat my workload estimates as wonderful gifts to him, and to receive his adverse responses as wonderful gifts as well. In order to be sincere I had to do a lot of internal work, and get in touch with certain unmet needs of mine, and address those first. But I succeeded at that. The first time I tried your idea was on a very heavy mail day. I told my boss I would be using two-and-a-half hours of overtime to deliver my route. But I told this as if I were serving a delectable Thanksgiving dinner to him, and had a truly genuine smile on my face. In my heart and mind it really was a tasty gift, because this information could help him plan the day and provide assistance to me, in order to save on overtime costs. I recognized that I was serving life by helping him meet his need to protect the postal service. When he heard my estimate he seemed incredulous. He had me repeat my request several times. How nice it seemed, that he wanted to receive this gift over and over again. So each time I repeated my request, I gave him a caring smile, and really felt with all my heart that he was receiving the most wonderful gift I could give him. His response was to follow me all day long, to see why I was going to use this amount of time. I took this as a wonderful gift from him, because it was an opportunity for me to show him all that I must do to accomplish my work. It would help me meet my need to be understood. Also, I could help him meet his need to protect the postal service from inefficiency. At my very first delivery, he gruffly told me I should be parking my mail truck in a certain way that would save some time (by backing into a parking space). However this instruction violated a safety rule. I replied with a genuinely cheerful smile, “Yes, I will do that, but I will also grieve it.” (I’m a union steward.) He seemed disconcerted and gave me no further instructions that day. When we met for the grievance the next day, I treated the grievance as if it were a wonderful gift to him, because it provided a means by which I could communicate my need for safety, and where he could communicate his need to protect the postal service from inefficiency. We ended the discussion on a friendly note. We resolved the issue by agreeing that I had the option to not follow that parking instruction at any time I judged it to be unsafe to follow. I’ve expanded this method of treating all requests as gift-receiving and gift-giving; so that now I’m using this method in my interactions with everyone. It seems like such a fun game to me. It feels fulfilling, and I’m really enjoying it. I haven’t had this much fun since I was a kid. It isn’t always easy, because to be sincere I must sometimes do some internal heart-and-mind Olympics, and address my unmet needs that block sincerity. But it’s worth the effort. And now I can more strongly celebrate my career. I also feel more confident in my ability to make fulfilling relationships sustainable, even in the face of confrontation and adversity. Thank you, Marshall for the guidance. Over the past 10 years I’ve been occasionally returning to recordings I’ve saved of you, and each time I get something new that helps me to grow as a giraffe and enjoy life just a little bit more.
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