In the big bad world, we often have to work with people that we may not like. I work with some people that I like, but don’t respect; and some I respect, but they rub me the wrong way. My challenge is to keep focus at the larger picture and seeing myself taking the high road when I must deal with these folks. Some times it’s almost a game and some fun and some times it is really tough.
He is One of Those that I Like, but….
Frank is really a nice guy; he can be thoughtful and charming. But he is in thrall to ultra conservative politics and is frankly racist and sexist, will tell you he is and in the same breath, tell you why he is righto be so. Period, the end. No discussion and the concept of an open mind is utterly foreign to him. Taking my cue from Mr. Khrushchev, I embrace peaceful coexistence, avoid hot button topics, and we have been ‘friends’ for years.
Frank’s skill set is well honed and in his field he does know his stuff. I needed his expertise and asked him if he would help me. Naturally he was most gracious and helpful, and quite patient when I didn’t understand some of the processes. I had offered to pay him and he refused; I later sent a gift card for eBay, which he appreciated.
As it turned out, his help was valuable, and his predictions for the outcome were right on the money. I wanted to do something a little nicer for him, and knew he liked red wine. I bought a really sweet bottle of Cabernet and walked to his office. We talked about the whole project and some next steps, now that I was out on my own. I asked again if I could offer him anything and he said my success at this work would be enough. How nice, truly.
As I reached into my bag for the bottle…
…he began a tirade about current political issues as he saw them and managed to, within seconds, enrage me. His choice of words was highly inflammatory as usual, and his rhetoric was the same stuff that had made me walk out the door at the last event we attended together. I was actually a little stunned, I mean, why, at this nice moment, would he do this? My feelings of gratitude were poisoned.
I had made the effort to not bring up anything incendiary, had not reacted to the little slights and comments as they came out, and wasn’t sure what to do. This was one of those split universe situations, where I was both in the room listening, and simultaneously I was watching the whole scene as a fly on the wall, as I tried to figure out the most gracious way to react.
My feeling was “Ah shit, Frank, why’d you have to go ruin this?”
With a deep inhalation of breath, and effusive thanks, I got the hell out. No, the wine didn’t come out of my bag, I ended up giving it to another really good, and politically parallel, friend.
Then fretted about it.
He did do me a favor, and asked for nothing in return. I felt that my reaction showed as much intolerance for his opinions as I feel for his.( Even if he is dead, dead wrong). Aren’t I the one who must show restraint, and avoid the obvious invitation to argue? Am I being petty and confusing issues of his help and his politics- which I knew going into this?
I did ask for and received help. But I am not sure that entitled him to expect me to listen to his nonsense. I feel he too could have used some of that lovely restraint and kept our conversation about the work, but the temptation to rant was too irresistible for him.
So now what?
The bigger part of me wants to go back and give him that (other) bottle. Part of me does not. In the larger picture, I suppose that if I am the bigger person, and I have to go back and do what I feel is the right thing, even if it is the wrong person.
Want to discuss a problem and find a good solution? Give a call 310 828 6979, we’d be happy to help find that higher path.
PS. I did go back and give him a nice bottle. I feel better now.
image credit: http://www.tot.name/pic/200906/30/200963081938731.jpg