Is "thanks" the hardest word?

Sorry may be the hardest word, but please and thanks may not be far behind.

According to emails published by the Independent Weekly, one factor in the decision to fire Hillary Gilles from the Downtown Improvement Board seems to have been the way she behaved after she felt she was slighted in the city’s celebration of Palafox Street’s recent honor as one of “America’s Top 10 Great Streets.”

In the email thread, Gilles expresses her hurt over not be individually recognized at the celebration -- organized by the Mayor’s office -- for her role in growing both the Palafox Market Saturday event and Gallery Night.

Her boss, DIB Director Ron Butlin, also expresses his disappointment and concern that Gilles then sent emails to Pensacola City Council Members saying how unfair she thought it was that she was not being individually recognized. And indeed going behind the boss when you don’t like the answer he or she gave you is a slippery slope.

Palafox Market and Gallery Night are important pillars in the growth of the Palafox corridor, without a doubt. Those events grew to flourish under Gilles’ care.

But Palafox’s boom is also due to the presence of Vinyl Music Hall, a live music venue that brings folks downtown many nights of the week.

So is the investment Quint and Rishy Studer have made in the block at Palafox and Main, taking at least two old buildings that were empty eyesores and turning them into bustling businesses.

So is the investment Joe Abston has made through Hopjacks and his other holdings.  

So is the investment by Susan Campbell Jewelry to move from Alcaniz Street to Palafox as part of “Jewelers Row,” where longtime businesses Elebash’s and Jewelers Trade Shop have been at for years.

One might argue that if some 10 years ago, Nick Zangari had not taken over a space that was a revolving door of failed businesses and opened New York Nick’s none of the rest of it would be here now either.   

There are as many people to thank for the growth of Palafox Street as there are people on Palafox Street. There is not world enough and time to thank them all.

Having just spent a few days at a Studer Group seminar on how organizations from churches to hospitals and school systems can use reward and recognition, coaching and relationship building to create engaged, productive employees put the saga of the fired DIB staff in new light.

Employees who feel valued and appreciated are happier, work harder and based on the evidence from many entities that study employee engagement and outcomes, make the service they provide customers better.

Employees who lash out -- or email -- in anger do none of those things.

Might some face-to-face conversation have helped Gilles express her concerns in a more productive way than a string of emails full of hurt feelings? Maybe.

Might talking to her personally have diffused the tension and found a solution that made her feel differently, and may have even meant keeping her on the job? Maybe.

Certainly the answer was not to start an email tree without the boss’ knowledge, potentially putting him in an untenable position, no matter how sympathetic he may have been otherwise.

Even if all of those things had happened, Gilles still may not have been able to set aside her hurt feelings. Or Butlin may still have come to the decision to terminate her employment. Surely there was room for compromise on both ends of this argument.

The answer doesn’t always have to be 0 or 60.