Dear Goodwill Gail,
I am an ALA unit officer. The person I replaced isn’t happy that she didn’t get re-elected and has been gossiping about me in the lounge at the Legion post. She is also trying to get our Legion post involved.
Want to Find Common Ground
Dear Want to Find Common Ground,
Please bear with me on this analogy: When a cat feels threatened, it immediately clings to everything around it – hissing and clawing as it tries to survive and escape the threat. Similarly, human beings react the same way (maybe not as dramatically) when we perceive a threat in our everyday lives, and I think it’s important to remember here that hurt people hurt people. The woman you replaced feels threatened by not being re-elected, and so she is reacting by clawing at you in the form of gossip.
First, I suggest trying to make peace with your fellow ALA unit member. Perhaps a one-on-one conversation could prove enlightening and help her see that you weren’t elected based on malice, but by a collective vote from everyone in your unit. Try to understand her side of things, and listen to understand; don’t listen to respond. If you don’t feel comfortable having a one-on-one conversation with her, maybe bring in another unit officer to act as a mediator. Whichever you choose, I recommend having the conversation on neutral territory like a local coffee shop or in a park.
During the conversation, I would challenge you both to remember why you joined the American Legion Auxiliary – was it for a leadership title or to help veterans? How does the negativity surrounding the elections benefit our nation’s heroes? If we’re all here for a common goal – to serve veterans – it shouldn’t matter who was elected to what office as long as we’re collectively working together to make a difference in the lives of veterans, servicemembers, and their families. With that in mind, maybe there is a way the two of you can work together on an upcoming event so that she knows she is valued and needed.
Regarding the Legion’s involvement, please note that The American Legion’s judge advocate has ruled that Legion posts have no authority over ALA units – we are two separate organizations. ALA unit issues should be resolved within the unit.
In the Spirit of Service Not Self,
Goodwill Gail is an advice column that helps ALA members deal with conflict within the Auxiliary in support of Goal 2 of the ALA’s 5-Year Centennial Strategic Plan: Create an Internal Culture of Goodwill. Need some advice on how to approach conflict within the American Legion Auxiliary? Send your questions to pr@ALAforVeterans.org with the subject line “Goodwill Gail.” We’ll create a pen name for you so that you remain anonymous. Talk soon!