Saturday, December 6, 2008

Employer-Employee Relations

The other evening, Kathy went out into our courtyard to tell our night guard something. She didn’t see him anywhere, so she called his name. No answer. So she called again, this time louder. Still no answer. Heading towards the gate, she called again, even louder. Nothing. Opening the gate, she saw him just on the other side, talking with someone in the street. It seemed impossible that he couldn’t have heard her. However, rather than questioning him about it, she passed on her message and went back into the house.

Afterwards, she wondered whether he had deliberately ignored her. Perhaps it's just because women here are not always accorded the same level of respect as men. However, I went to ask a friend, whom I respected for his understanding and advice in terms of cultural matters, what we should do about it. If it was a lack of respect, it wasn’t something I wanted to continue, especially since I would be away from time to time and Kathy would have to deal with this man on her own.

His advice was clever indeed! He said that the next time it happened, she should ask the guard if he had heard her calling him. If he answers yes, he will be openly admitting that he is dissing her, something he will be reluctant to do because it will have obvious unpleasant consequences. If he answers no in an attempt to cover himself, she should say to him, “Well, how can you do your job as a guard to listen for and chase off intruders if you can’t even hear me calling you in a loud voice? Maybe we should be looking for a guard that can hear well enough to do his job properly.” Ouch! If that won’t set him on the straight and narrow, I don’t know what will!

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