If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. ~Romans 12:18 (HCSB)
In a week, I will have been at my new job for exactly one year…which technically means it’s not new anymore…but that’s not the point of this post. Ha!
We all have those people at work that we have to “dance” around because of personality and character differences. I have worked in a handful of public libraries and dealt with many personalities of customers and staff, but I now work in an academic library. We are largely separated from the public in our department so I’m usually just around my coworkers. A couple of them are definitely characters all of their own making, but one in particular tries my dancing shoes until they’re nearly worn out at the end of each week.
She thrives on negativity and drama, and she will pull anyone else down to feel better about herself. This can be infuriating, but I also understand that she lives with a chronic medical condition and comes from a very insecure background. I make certain allowances because I know deep down she is often in pain and lacks decent self-esteem. The saying is true that “hurt people” hurt people, but I also know that another saying is true, “Just because you’re in pain, doesn’t mean you have to be a pain.” She definitely tests my practice of Matthew 18:21-22.
One of her other characteristics is that she treats the job only as a paycheck. Now I completely agree that this can be a healthy mental approach to a job. It can often mean that you don’t take emotions home with you that pertain to work situations. However, her approach is that she will do as little as possible to earn her paycheck, and she will NOT do her job any better than she feels like doing it (i.e. She’s lazy.). Consequently, other people can’t do their jobs if she isn’t doing her job right. This particular quality affects me because I was trained to take over her old job. I have learned many things in a trial by fire because her training with me was skewed by how lazy she can be.
Recently, her laziness has begun to cause even more problems for three other employees and our supervisor in the department, and bless her heart, she seems clueless to why everyone stays mad at her. One of my other coworkers has worked with this lady for almost twenty years and has finally hit her limit of accepting mistakes. (I’m amazed it took twenty years!) They have now been completely silent with each other for two weeks, and I have to “do-si-do” back and forth between their offices to keep the peace. I have to be certain not to visit with one too long without visiting the other, or I find myself on the receiving end of the silent treatment. I often find myself in my office working while listening to sermons online so I don’t have to talk to either of them.
It is all part of the “working waltz” – the moves that keep the board balanced on a point so that it doesn’t tip too far one way or the other. Some people aren’t as sensitive to imbalance in the emotions around them, but I am so sensitive that it can ruin my day when things are off balance. Sometimes I just have to be away from the people who are quite out of balance emotionally themselves. As of right now, I just keep dancing because I care about my coworkers regardless of whether I agree with them or am irritated with them. Sadly, it is largely just this one coworker that ever throws things off balance.
I’m personally working on not being so affected by other people’s emotional swings, and I know I can’t control whether someone else is emotionally unpredictable. I also can’t control my coworker’s work quality, but I can control the quality of my work. I’ll keep on doing my job to the best of my ability because I don’t want to have a negative affect on others. I will take care of the things that I can and hope to be a good example for my coworker. It’s just proof that even at my age I’m always in progress, and I’m constantly practicing my figurative dancing skills.
Listening to right now: At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
Book of the Bible I’m currently studying: I Chronicles (yes, all the begats – but there are some interesting nuggets of info in there as well)