Difficult people

What do you do with those people who are just plain difficult. You know what I mean. They always have to get their way. They don’t like to share, don’t work and play well with others. They’re petty, stubborn, manipulative, and so on.

If you have a choice, cut their negative energy out of your life.  Sometimes, you’re stuck with them at work, or in an organization or group, but if not, just cut them out.

I don’t mean to sound calloused. In fact, I’d say give them a second chance. You don’t know what has happened to them in the past that may have affected their behavior. But, if you’ve tried to be nice, and they just beat you over the head with the olive branch, then it’s time to give them the boot.

Of course, we often are stuck dealing with these difficult ones, like it or not. I’m not sure what the best answer is, but I know that giving in doesn’t work. Unfortunately, that often happens. The person who talks the loudest and longest, often gets their way by wearing down everyone else, or grabbing the most attention.

The other end of the spectrum doesn’t really do it either. If you fight them on everything, you just end up locked in an endless battle which makes you look bad too. Remember the old saying,  never argue with a fool, lest someone walking by can’t tell the difference.

I guess you have to choose your battles, build alliances, and sharpen your own game.  Hopefully, people will see who the bigger person is.  If they don’t, then perhaps they just aren’t a good judge of character, or they see something of themselves in the bullish one.

I have a situation like that at work. I share equipment with someone on another shift, who has worked there for about 16 years, I think.  Most people in the department have also been there a long time, whereas I’ve been in the department only a year.  The other employees tend to be sympathetic to his cause to some degree, since they all have workstations all to themselves, as he did, before I came along.

I had worked on several different workstations before winding up at the current one. Fortunately, I had already won over the others with my friendly, upbeat, unassuming approach to people and to life. So, it’s not like they side with him, exactly. Some kind of stay neutral, while a few are totally on my side.  I think that’s because I have been understanding and accomodating as the new person, but have stuck up for myself and spoke to someone higher up when needed.

It’s sometimes an uneasy truce, but I’ve learned not to let it bother me. I don’t care how he feels about me, and I don’t like him. As someone who hasn’t always been comfortable with conflict or having others be displeased with me, it’s actually liberating to be unconcerned about the mood or actions of a thorn in my side.

I’ll just keep minding my own business, and resist the temptation to respond in kind to any antagonizing.

The pettiness principle

I learned last week that one of the bosses where I work had just lost the man she had been with for years. A day or so after that, there was a sympathy card circulating for people to sign, and they were taking donations for Forgotten Felines, which was a cause the man who passed had supported.

I was going to sign the card right when I got there that morning, but someone else was signing it and people were standing around talking, so I decided to get it later. A few minutes later,  the person who was keeping the card at her desk, gave me a heads up.

It seemed there were a few people who felt that one shouldn’t sign the card if they don’t make a donation.  I just said, “wow.” My coworker said, “Yeah, tell me about it.”  I hadn’t thought too much about donating, but I probably would have done it. But now, it seemed like some were trying to force it, or was it about who gets credit for the money collected? Who knows?

My thought was to get my own card and give it to my boss and forgo the donation, or give independently online rather than giving it at work.  I was actually going to do that. You know, on principle. To stand up to the tyranny of the petty ones.  Then I saw the light.

Would that not make me as petty as they? I’ve been getting fed up with some people that work there, but perhaps this was not the time to revolt. Choose your battles, right? I gave a few bucks to the cause (that’s all I had with me), and I signed the card.

No big deal.  For me.  But my  boss was dealing with a real issue, the loss of a loved one. It’s amazing how you can get caught up in the peripheral issues and forget the important one.

It’s also very easy to get dragged down to the level of those who want to complain and play tit for tat. It’s not fair if they keep getting away with it, one might say. Someone has to do something, put them in their place. The problem is, you end up in the midst of a continual game of action and reaction, insult and retaliation, animosity and resentment.

I’d rather continue as I have been, staying out of it, not letting it bother me, and try to treat everyone with respect and amicability. It’s been working for me so far. I get along with nearly everyone, and if not, I don’t lose any sleep. It’s their problem.

I think it’s a good approach, as long as it doesn’t become a case of being afraid of conflict or trying to please everyone. If a person says something racist or personally insulting to another, for example, and you witness it, then that’s different.

The real loss here is that people spend so much time and energy complaining and making things difficult for each other, instead of working together, solving problems, sharing insights, and all that good stuff. Things that we can do to help each other and make the work day more pleasant, instead of creating and feeding an oppressive or gloomy atmosphere.

Don’t they know? (I haven’t said it for a while.) We’re all in this together.

I’ve said it before. There’s whole worlds to discover in the lives of the people around us. Go exploring!