I wrote in my last blog about a dilemma. That dilemma got more complicated today.
I got a call from a mutual friend this morning about the individual, who was the cause of the dilemma, doing ‘outreach’ for my Support Group. They had made further contact with several organizations who wanted flyers to distribute. I was asked about when we were going to pursue the 501(c)(3) (non-profit) status.
I explained, once again, to this mutual friend, who seemed to have forgotten that she’d helped me to decide to hold off on seeking the non-profit status until we’d had some meetings and could determine how many parents were actually going to attend our meetings. I shared that it’s been my experience that people get excited about something, think it’s a good thing, but don’t necessarily attend. I shared that I’ve had a lot more enthusiastic responses from service providers, agencies and educators than parents so I think we should see how many ‘behinds we can put in the seats’ before pursuing such an expensive and complicated goal.
The friend told me that this individual was getting a lot of enthusiasm from ‘people in the ranks’. I asked what that meant, she said, doctors, organizations, agencies, etc. (I guess that was her way of reaffirming what I had just shared.)
She went on to tell me that she’d told this individual that I’d suggested she should tell agencies and organizations to download the flyer off the Support Group’s website and that the individual said that wasn’t very professional! She then printed some flyers off the site herself and was going to deliver them.
I found that very offensive. I had never told her to do that. What I had said, more than once in the past few days, was that I needed contact information for the people and places this individual was sharing information about our group with, because I’m maintaining a data base of contact information for everyone I’m sending flyers to and that has shared their resource materials with us. I had told her if I had email addresses for these places I would email them the flyer and brochure so they could print them out as they need them, when their supply dwindles.
She interrupted me, saying she knows I’m doing that and this individual is keeping a list of places she’s contacting. Well, that doesn’t do me any good! I need the list, I want to coordinate our efforts and try to prevent duplicate contact because I think that makes us look unorganized and amateurish.
I told her how offensive I found the whole issue of this individual saying ‘that’s not very professional’… she was given inaccurate information and had made a judgment about my professionalism.
I had previously told our mutual friend that I didn’t want her to be a liaison between myself and this other individual. The other individual has my phone number, she could call me herself, directly, rather than relating things through our mutual friend. She needs to coordinate with me. I’d like to be shown a little bit of respect. I think I’ve earned it.
I don’t appreciate being “told” what someone is doing in my stead. I would appreciate her clearing things with me before doing them.
Another member of the group made contact with a local school district, she then forwarded me all the emails they’d exchanged, asked me if she was representing the group appropriately and with correct information. She then asked me if she could make contact with four other districts. She was very respectful and made a point of coordinating with me, letting me know what she was doing and how she was doing it.
This mutual friend is someone I care deeply about and cherish as a friend, but she is emotionally invested in the situation of this other individual and is very defensive of her. Asking a question about her situation or what she’s doing on behalf of the group is met with defensive and aggressive responses.
When I expressed how offended I was by the professionalism comment and that their back and forth had produced a miscommunication that reflected directly on my credibility, she said she was sorry, she thought that’s what I had told her last night. She didn’t mean to ‘p*ss’ me off.
This is exactly the reason why I don’t want people going ‘rogue’ and possibly doing something that could damage the reputation of the Group before we’ve even gotten started. This is why I want to coordinate the ‘message’ and be sure that people aren’t misrepresenting the purpose of the group or what we can offer to parents. I don’t want to have to repair any damage done.
I had planned to talk more about the purpose of the group and what we have to offer, what I have been working to develop, when we had the ‘web-meeting’ three days before the first parent meeting, so that my core team would all be on the same page when we faced our first room full of parents.
I was so angry and frustrated this morning that I broke down and sobbed after hanging up the phone. I would just appreciate some respect… respect for my experience, respect for all the work I’ve done on my own for 4 months and respect for the goal I’m trying to reach.