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Life is a learning process: what works and what doesn’t; how to behave in public, with family and in the workplace; and especially what sort of people we want to be around and who we’d rather see sent to Mars.
Even if it hurts to admit, we’re all guilty of behaving like idiots at times (and I’m not referring to adolescence, which most of us would rather forget). So we should remember just how difficult it can be to deal with idiots, or even those people who are just annoying. Keeping our sense of humour on these occasions is essential for our sanity.
In the workplace, we’ve all had to put up with irritating people whose behaviour can be tolerated at times but is unacceptable on other occasions. Maybe we’ve been one of those annoying people. Do you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following examples?
- The naysayer: It’ll never work. Might as well give up now. If nothing else, this person usually spurs you to do it – whatever it is – just to prove him or her wrong.
- The cynic: Oh, yeah, you’re just doing this to impress people. You don’t really believe in what you’re doing. And no one will actually support your cause. The naysayer, much to his or her chagrin, also stimulates you to succeed.
- The reneger: I know I promised to do this, but something came up (famine, flood, dog died, great aunt came into town). This is the same person who always had an excuse why homework was never done (see list above). Learn to extricate yourself from any situations in which you might have to rely on the reneger.
- The eager beaver: What can I do, huh, huh? I can do that! Let me do that! I’ll work so hard and I won’t even eat or sleep! (As well as being an irritation, this person usually falls by the wayside early on, from exhaustion if nothing else.) If you can put up with the almost overwhelming enthusiasm and optimism for a bit, you can usually find something to keep them busy and out of your hair.
- The ‘do as I say, not as I do’: This person is often a parent relishing in his or her position of authority over their children. Admit it, you’ve been guilty of this! You can probably get away with it if you can explain exactly why you’re allowed to behave in one way while expecting everyone else to behave in another. (As author Catherine Aird says, If you can’t be a good example, you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.) If you can do that, you’re probably on the fast track to CEO success – at least until everything comes crashing down.
- The boss: Just do it, because I’m your boss and I say so. Another person relishing their position of authority. Their presence needs to be semi-tolerated, as long as you’re left alone to actually do your own job.
The list could go on but you get the idea. If you smiled while reading it or some faces popped into your mind, great. If you grudgingly recognized yourself, that’s great, too. Perhaps it will keep you from blowing your cool the next time you come face to face with one or more of the above. Instead, smile politely and take a whole lot of stress out of your day.
Besides, just standing there grinning is the perfect response to irritating behaviour (and it makes them wonder what you know that they don’t).
Troy Media Columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.
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