Tough Cookies

posted in: Evolving | 0

I have always tended to get along well with colleagues who are generally considered by others to be the “difficult” coworkers in our organization. In fact, the ratio is significant. Many of those tough cookies are among my closest colleagues. And I have an idea why.

Because I’m difficult, too.

I would flatter myself to think I am not perceived that way by others. I am usually quite congenial, eager to help, and enthusiastically offer to do more than what is asked, which hopefully makes up for my typical aloofness or my occasional lack of tact when my practicality slips past my friendliness-first filters.

I get along with difficult people because I know something about them that most others don’t– that they are far harder on themselves than they are on you.

See, these people generally have a very detailed vision of How Things Should Be. It is a vision that they feel personally responsible for bringing to life. If they are short tempered or demanding with you, it is likely because they themselves feel pressured by their vision; their concern that it be Done Right has more to do with expectations of Self than it actually has to do with you personally. You, in fact, are merely collateral damage that occurs when they are firing the heavy artillery of critical energy at themselves.

I know this because I have been that person. Or probably STILL am that person, just a little more self-aware. Because I know they have stressed themselves to an irrational extent in trying to achieve their vision (which can be quite menial things, even), I reflect back to them my respect for their vision and try to help them achieve that or better.

I have compassion for the pressure they put on Self because in recent years I learned to start having compassion for myself on this issue, too. Compassion needs to start with Self before you can possibly expect to be truly compassionate with others. If you cannot be kind to yourself, how can you possibly be kind to others?

When I realized this and started making conscious attempts to be nice to me, I think/hope I started becoming just a little less difficult of a person.

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