It was hard to do.
We were facing a difficult clinical issue. I had given clear direction for someone to follow. I don't go into these situations lightly and I think about them deeply. I've never forgotten that I'm muddling in people's lives so I never give advice that I don't think about. I thought what I had come up with was fair, respectful and safe.
So it surprised me that the person whom I was directing (don't try to guess where this happened, I consult to a variety of different organizations) made a different decision and changed one part of the process that I had recommended. She informed me that whilst following my instructions she got new and different information therefore she felt that she had to incorporate that information into the process and alter the plan accordingly. I should have felt pleased that she felt able, under my clinical supervision, to make new and different decisions.
I did not.
I took a breath and calmly (I'm not a yeller) explained (I'm an explainer) that she needed, in this circumstance because of all the issues involved, to follow my instructions. She apologized saying that she had made a big mistake, I accepted her apology and gave new instructions for what was to happen next. It was all very kind and very forgiving on my part but I'm sure she got the message 'don't mess with my recommendations'.
Then, time passes as time has a habit of doing.
Then, I thought about what had happened and about the new information that she had gotten during her work with the individual involved. And because time had passed and there was distance between the moment she told me of the change and the 'now' I realized that, in fact, she had made a good decision. That I would have, in the same circumstance made the same decision. That my insisting that she should have followed, lock step, my recommendations was an error.
Oh well, at least I'm not a yeller. I could simply let it slide.
So. I did.
Then, I thought that if I didn't talk to her she would forever think that she shouldn't think when I'm consulting to her. She would mistrust her own judgements, which proved to be very clear and very insightful, and maybe start making mistakes. She would begin to look for guidance when she should simply be providing leadership. This was no longer about the individual being served or the decision being made. This was about my character and her future.
Then, I sat down and wrote an email saying that I had been wrong in my assessment that the new information didn't change anything - cause it did. That her decision was correct and that she did a good job of a difficult situation - she altered the part of the recommendations I had made that were affected by the new information but not the rest. Her clinical insight is good, she has judgements that she should trust and that she should always think independently in her work with me. I apologized for taking so long to figure it out. I told her that I may be older, I may consult to her but I also may - occasionaly and rarely granted - be wrong.
I read the email over and over again. Part of me really didn't want to send it. Who likes admiting they are wrong? Part of me went into a fit - she'll never follow your instructions again, she'll act independently not asking for help when she should, she'll think less of you. With those voices clamouring for time in my head, I pushed 'send'.
I saw her recently. She smiled broadly and was walking maybe an inch taller. But, what's this, there was a renewed respect in her eyes when she looked at me.
That, I didn't expect.