I was talking with a friend and we noticed that there was a great divide in our community. There were discussions we could have with some people, that, when we tried to have the same discussion with others, resulted in our being accused of speaking meanly about the person. Since we knew this was not so, and since we both had conversation about people in our respective jobs and knew that this type of talking about people was necessary, I wondered why some people look at life differently. The common thread seemed to be whether, or not the person had a professional job that required them to supervise other people in some capacity.
Professional people realize quickly that everyone has weaknesses. This is a fact. Once a weakness is identified one must then decide if the person can learn and improve, or if this is an area that they are just not suited for. This is not mean. This is life. And you can apply it on a personal level. I am a great public speaker, but do not ask me to act. Pretending is not part of my nature. Sometimes points can better be made through drama. I would not be the one to ask this of. Similarly, if you wanted a flash-mob for advertising or to boost moral, I would not fit in. Identifying someone’s strengths and weaknesses and then deciding how to proceed is often necessary and not cruel. Even on a personal level one must assess what a friend can and cannot handle. It’s okay. Some people like random visitors. Others prefer a phone call on a not so regular basis. It’s not personal. It’s just the way they are.
People in professional jobs also learn not to equate criticism with hate. Criticism, when done well, is a loving act designed to help the other person improve. Occasionally I look over other people’s projects. They love that I am willing to do this for them, because they do not want to make unnecessary mistakes. If I were afraid to criticize them this would not work.
They also realize that they do not need everyone to be just like them. Eventually, when working in groups you realize that it is good that the people around you have different skills, and begin to see people who are talented in areas you are not as assets you want to have around. They are not competition that makes you look bad, but people on the same team that are going to help you succeed.
These jobs also teach you that people can have different points of views and still get along. Disagreeing with someone, especially about something that has no relevance to what you are working on, like politics, is okay, and even healthy. All of your friends do not have to think the same as you. You will learn much from their perspectives, and they from you. If you go home upset because you cannot believe your friend thinks that way and do not want to speak to them because of it then you have some maturing to do. Professional situations help people learn to do this, because the environment forces people to be polite, and you must see each other, and be cordial, again. Strong negative emotions just because you don’t like something they said must therefore be dealt with, or you will be the one without a job.
You also realize that people change, but you must deal with who they are now. There are too many times you must deal with people repeatedly, like it or not. Some are just having a bad day, but you must still get them to accomplish what you need them for. You must therefore change your tactics to achieve your goal. You can make nice tomorrow, but today this has to be done. Others improve over time. They will now be very useful where they were not before. If you write them off completely you may lose out on an excellent opportunity to use them where they now shine. Re-evaluation of people is not a bad thing. This is how we give people a second chance. Honest evaluation however is a necessary thing, and it is okay to admit the person is not in a position to be useful at the moment. (I once had a position left open for me because they wanted me, and could wait, but they did not want me with all of the responsibilities I currently had because they knew I would be unable to perform the job to their satisfaction while juggling everything else so they were waiting to make an official offer. This is wise.)
Recently, speaking to a friend I said that a certain preacher had a great ministry and was very effective, but he was just not my ‘flavor.’ It surprised her. But we don’t have to like everything. We can admit that some things have both good and bad points (advantages and disadvantages) and that everyone is not going to be all things to all people (that’s Christ’s job, not ours). And it’s okay. There are plenty of niches for all of us. The beauty of it is, is that when you find your niche, you shine and are very, very happy there. Just remember that it takes longer to find your niche if everyone around you flatters you and tells you how wonderful you are and there is no one who is willing to tell you uncomfortable stuff and lead you to where you could actually do well.
November 9, 2012