Susan paused, had she taken her pain pills? She wasn’t sure. She looked at the plastic amber bottle with the confusing white label full of numbers and dates. There was her name, Susan Dewitt, highlighted with yellow at the very top. Such an ugly little bottle always around, bossy and interfering with warnings on its side. She’d tried not taking them, and made if for three days, but she’d finally sought them out again, and even felt some affection for the little bottle for a while. Now she wanted to smack it off of the table.
She’d written down the time of day that she was to take the pills in a pale green notebook. She’d been drawing a line though each time on the list as she took the pills. It was 10 o’clock am. There was a line through 10 o’clock, and the pill bottle with its cap off was in front of her on the table, but she wasn’t sure if she’d taken the pill or not. She looked away and into the eyes of a stuffed raccoon. It was on all fours one front leg lifted, its ears pricked forward, a lovely woodland creature, that had been reduced to roadkill and then reincarnated by her late husband, a taxidermist.
“You were probably rabid Chessy, “ she said. She looked back at the bottle. Had she taken a pill before stopping to commune with Chessy? She didn’t know. She just didn’t know.
Things get very messy, with all of the he-said she-said battles. Both parties spend a lot of money taking depositions. Then the judge makes a ruling. If the judge rules that no proper complaint was made, or that the mistreatment was not serious enough, the case is probably over. Here’s a recent case illustrating this battle, where the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that a woman who quit due to sex harassment did not meet the standards for “constructive discharge.” The jury thought she did meet the standards, but the Appeals Court disagreed and reversed the jury verdict. The case is Diana Duncan v. General Motors (PDF file – opens in new window).
Even when people know how to use constructive criticism well in terms of phrasing and content, when they deliver their message is just as important as how they deliver it. If a person is extremely upset, for example, his emotional state might prevent him from truly absorbing what the evaluator has said. Giving the message soon after a problem is identified is also a good idea, because the more time that passes after a mistake or opportunity for improvement, the less relevant or urgent the issue seems. Those who offer these types of messages therefore have a responsibility to pay attention to the recipient and his circumstances to figure out if the time is right to talk.