Back in 1995, I was a young 28 year old and didn’t think it was appropriate to give the boss a compliment. People who do something like that earn a title that has something to do with the color of their nose. You just don’t do that. Or so I thought, before sitting at Vicky Texter’s funeral wishing so badly that I had told her exactly how much I admired her. I wish she knew the positive way her leadership had impacted my life. I wish she knew how much confidence I had gained working under her supervision.
My boss’s funeral wasn’t the only one I attended that year. I had to deal with the deaths of 18 of my 33 co-workers. I never told them how much they meant to me. Our Credit Union, Federal Employees Credit Union, was in the Alfred P. Murrah building which was blown up in an act of domestic terrorism on April 19, 1995. Granted, this situation was extreme but eventually the odds are great you will one day attend the funeral of someone you worked with.
We often spend more time with our co-workers than we do our own families. Even though we are professionals and may not be “friends” outside of the office, does this mean it isn’t okay to occasionally let your co-workers know that you care about them? Why shouldn’t we tell our boss they are amazing (if they are)?
Many things changed for me after April 19, 1995. One of them is that I tell my work family how I feel about them. I never want to sit at a funeral again with regret for words unsaid. Whether we like it or not, we are not just “co-workers”, we are emotional beings who on are a journey connected together by an industry focused on helping people. In the words of the Pointer Sisters, “We Are Family”.
For me, this means occasionally sending downright sappy emails to let others know the positive way they have impacted my life. Even board members. Call my nose any color you want.
Would you feel regret for words unsaid if you were sitting at the funeral of your boss, co-worker, or direct report right now? If so, do something about it.