Blog » So long, Frank Lloyd Wright
Watching Alan Yentob programmes on the BBC is the televisual equivalent to Jeeves retiring early with an improving book and a milky drink. I've enjoyed his revealing Leonardo series and some of his pieces on Imagine have been excellent. The episode in that series that struck me most was an excellent documentary on the making of Simon & Garfunkel's last and greatest album, Bridge over Troubled Water.
Yesterday, I went to Spotify to find some of my favourite tracks from the album and gave a 'spin' as it were to the final track on side 1 of the 'LP' as I remember it, So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright. There followed an experience that caught me by surprise. Within seconds of the first guitar chords being plucked and Artie's first line being uttered I was straight back to 1973 in our semi-d in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. More amazing still, I could smell Airfix glue as in my mind I was again fumbling to put together a Mark II Hurricane or some such. How does that work? The memory, and how sounds, smells and sights can resonate with emotions, is a truly wondrous part of how we are made.
Unbeknown to me (and apparently to Artie at the time he recorded it), Paul Simon had written this song about the imminent breakup of the duo, hence the feeling of lament throughout. Which is a neat link to a conversation I was having with a client (whom we shall call Jane) last week. She felt desperate after a 3 year conflict with a colleague at work. Her boss had agreed to them both having mediation, but Jane was not sure she wanted to go through a process with a person she neither liked nor trusted. My method in these situations is simply to ask clients to explain how they see their choices at the moment and how they feel about each option. For Jane, it was i) keep my head down, take notes and hope I can 'get' my colleague on capability proceedings (but she didn't want to live like that), ii) go for mediation (she was not sure she could cope with sitting in a room with her colleague for 2 hours), iii) wait and see if my colleague files another grievance in which case I'll take 6 months off sick (she'd feel really guilty about the cost of this) iii) leave her job (but she knew that would mean taking resentment with her and she might not get a job as good as she has). Jane is still weighing up her options.
I have reflected on option iv) in particular. Wouldn't it be sad if Jane had the 'Airfix glue' type memories but in a much less pleasant way, whenever she remembered her old place of work? Wouldn't it be worth a one-shot attempt to repair the situation before doing something more drastic? The cost of conflict in the workplace is not just in the stress and anxiety of grievance procedures. ACAS tells us that the average cost to an organisation of a dispute is 9 days of staff and management time for every individual involved in the conflict. And that's if it's straightforward.
Christmas can be tough on any relationship. But let me encourage you to be open about difficulties and face them. Don't be like Paul Simon and code your 'goodbye'. After all, Artie Garfunkel didn't appreciate it. According to Tom Adair in his 2000 article in The Scotsman, 'A Bridge too far', he commented, "I find that a secretive and unpleasant thing to have done to you."
Have a good Christmas everyone and do contact us if you want to chat about sorting out a conflict you are in or aware of. Our offices closed from 24th December to 2nd January.