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Human to Human

In the face of unexplained hostility with a business partner, I was encouraged to address the situation “human to human”

I had an issue earlier this year with one of our supplier partners. There was a woman helping me with some of our production tasks in NYC. When we first met each other it felt like fate at this little shop in Bushwick. She was dying to use her design and production skills with an established bag company willing to embrace her creativity, and I was in desperate need for someone local with her skills. But as our first project together wrapped up and we began to communicate about the deliverables over text, things become unexplainably hostile. I was distressed over the situation for a number of reasons (including the hostility and the project going awry), which I explained to my business partner Alessandro who had been with me when I initially met this person. He expressed total confusion as well, and then proposed a very curious suggestion: “What if you just talk to her human to human to find out what happened?”.

What a suggestion! 

I argued back that based on the anger and attitude expressed in the text messages, it didn’t seem possible. “But don’t you want to know what happened, just to know?”, he replied back. 

The truth is that I was scared to get on the phone with her! I had already solved the mystery in my head as “she’s crazy”, but that didn’t appease Alessandro, and it didn’t actually appease me either. “Remember when you first met her? You were both so excited to work together” he reminded me. 

So I am going to go ahead and claim credit here for being a bad bitch simply by making the decision to get on the phone to have an uncomfortable conversation. I am claiming this here not to toot my own horn, but because I see us humans shying away from these conversations regularly and my hope is that making this claim will further encourage myself (and maybe others?) to confront difficult situations by addressing them instead of ghosting them. 

OK so I called her. I was scared. I was shaking as the phone rang and I even did my power stance. But she answered and I took it back to how hopeful I was when I met her and just wondering where things went wrong. It turns out (duh of course!) that there was a misunderstanding somewhere along the way where she misinterpreted my messages and thought that I no longer wanted to work with her and responded in a way where I then thought she no longer wanted to work with me, which turned into her demanding early payment and me demanding the return of my materials. But, once we spoke human to human, we were able to assure each other of our interest and intent to move forward, and we did so for a period of time.

This was such an influential experience for me. While it can be easier to see our loved ones as humans, in a business setting or situations with strangers, especially when it is established that they see things differently from you (for example religious or political), meeting someone in this human to human way requires not an only an openness of heart and mind so that I can see someone as an imperfect sentient being just like me, but also, to show up with an extreme level of honesty from my part, and an openness to see where I have made any possible missteps on a human level. It feels vulnerable, and it is. It is also incredibly powerful. 

Do you agree that putting on our bad bitch pants to step up to the humanity plate and confront disagreements with compassion and an openness to take any ounce of responsibility that we can is what bad bitches do at bad bitch o’clock? Are there aspects of your business life, personal life, and beyond where you (and your community) may be able to grow by showing up with a human to human mentality? Where do you see this lack of humanity in society? Do you think that having this mentality can ever be harmful? I would love to hear your thoughts and discuss!   

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