April Jeppson: Applying lessons learned earlier in life

Published 8:45 pm Friday, March 8, 2024

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Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

Earlier this week I had to deal with a situation. One of my staff members told me about a man who had been there the day before. During our conversation, I was surprised and saddened to hear how he spoke to her. When I learned that he tossed around my name, implying that I had given him permission to do various things, (which I did not), it upset me. Finding out that he outright lied to my employee in an attempt to get his way, well, that took me over the edge.
I knew I needed to talk to this individual about his behavior and establish some hard boundaries. When he entered the building, I got a very clear impression that I should not bring him into my office. I knew I needed to keep our conversation public and out in the open.

April Jeppson

I found a space to sit and talk with him near the entrance of our building. He came at me strong, saying that he had complaints about the way he was treated the other day. It initially threw me off because from what I heard (and saw on the cameras) I couldn’t imagine what he had to complain about. Not to mention that the staff member, now in question, is someone that I’ve seen time and time again prove how capable and amazing she is.

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He started twisting this story about mistreatment. Where he was rude and demanding, in his eyes, he deserved these things. When I asked him why he told my employee xyz, he slowly smiled and said, “Oh that? I was just joking.” The way his face changed when I confronted him, it made my insides cold.

No, he wasn’t joking. He was trying everything he could to get his way. He asked, threatened, manipulated, bullied and now he was trying to be charming and paint a picture of him as the victim in all of this. I was all too familiar with these tactics.

A few years ago, I might have felt sorry for him. I actually would have believed him. I mean, why would he tell me that he was just joking around, if he wasn’t? I probably would have wanted to go back and talk to my employee to double check, because maybe she misread the situation. I am notorious for giving people second, third and even eighth chances. Sadly, I’ve learned that some people don’t deserve that many chances. Sadder yet, some people actually take advantage of people like me.

In the last few years I’ve had experiences with co-workers and supposed friends who have taught me some hard lessons. At the time, I couldn’t imagine why

I needed to go through something like that. However, as I sat on that bench watching this man’s expression change as he tried to gaslight my employee, a wave of clarity came over me.

I had seen that creepy smile from someone else before. I instantly remembered the countless times I was lied to and manipulated. This time was different though. This time, I didn’t question what I knew to be true. I was able to see right through his tricks and call him out on his blatant lies.

I’m thankful for all the blessings in my life. That includes the not-so-fun life lessons that help carve me into a better person.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.