The difference with family is that you gotta see them again at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, so one way or another, you hafta get beyond F*U. There’s no recipe for this, no magic formula. Sometimes one thing works and sometimes another. We put up with things from our families that we don’t put up with from the rest of the world, perhaps because we are all in the same learning boat together. We file complaints at work or walk away from friends but with family, complain all you want they’re still there there at the next event, probably with the same old behaviours. I expect this is some kind of cosmic learning experience. Or experiment.
But what about when your family expands, per se, into your neighbourhood, into your workplace? What about when other places feel like home? I’m not into defending my boundaries, preferring instead to play with people who don’t trespass. Sooner or later I just walk away from people if I find I have to defend myself from them too much or too often. But what about when people walk away from you? How do you fix it? Especially if they’re still there, and you’re still there?
Once upon a time I applied for a job with the federal government and had to write a “Judgment Test“. It was a litany of situations in which you must deal with nasty co-workers; “Co-worker takes credit for your work; what do you do? Co-worker doesn’t pull his weight; do you work overtime, tell the boss or confront him? Co-workers are feuding and you are caught in the middle; what do you do?” All I could think was that I didn’t want to work in a place where people behave like that. Is that really what it’s like in the federal government? I failed the test of course.
Six months later, applying for another job there, an insider friend gave me the following advice, “Just don’t be yourself. Whatever you think is the right answer, put something else.” I passed the test that time and then wondered if I would have to continue to be not me forever if I got the job? Did everyone who got in pretend not to be themselves and answer what they thought they should say rather than what they really thought? What does this say about our society? About our comfort level in the workplace? Or perhaps just about my judgment in human relations?
Wouldn’t it be better if we could all just be like three-year olds in our dealings with each other, sincere, direct and in the moment? What would that be like, I wonder?
Mike, aka, the Best, thinks that I am the only one who thinks about these things, but surely, I am not the only one who feels the effects of them?