Thursday, March 27, 2008

If it wasn't him, it would be someone else. Or, lessons in acceptance.

Remember when I said that this Spring would have a challenge in the form of a repeat of last Spring? Yeah. I called it. I've been struggling with my reactions to a difficult student, with whom I've had the pleasure of working for a few semesters now. This guy is a piece of work. But as I was thoughtfully considering how best to serve him (my nice way of saying 'trying to quit obsessing over how he is making my work life a living hell'), I realized a couple of things. I would like to share them with you now. Ahem.

  • If it wasn't him, it would be someone else. By which I mean, there will always be a difficult person to deal with, whether a client or a coworker, and unfortunately we just don't live in a world in which people act the way we want them to. [And sometimes, we are someone else's difficult person. Wow. Maybe that should actually be its own thought.]

  • This is the job. By which I mean, his antics, charming and time-filling though they may be, are not keeping me from doing my job. This is the job - simultaneously multitasking the needs of all my students, employees, and coworkers (not to mention myself), with the needs of a few "difficult" folks.

  • What a great learning experience. By which I mean, there is always something to be learned. A wise field study supervisor told me to be glad for my "difficult" clients, as they would ultimately be the ones to teach me the most. Hmm. While still not convinced, I do have to admit that by trying to crack the code of this guy, and by trying different patterns of problem-solving, and by working on my own reactions, I really am learning a lot more than I would with 10 of my "easy" people.

  • Just do it. My apologies to that large company that manufactures overpriced sporting goods for borrowing their old marketing phrase. What I need to stay focused on is doing my job. This means, acting with integrity, maintaining appropriate boundaries, continuing to work for student success, supporting my employees, and consulting with my coworkers for help. Do it.

I would love to hear from others about their experiences with difficult people at work. Do you get better at it? Or do you just learn to look at the bright side? Or do you develop eye twitches and nervous fits of laughter? Not that that's happening to me. Just wondering.

Anyway, I'm feeling drained and our cupboards are full of girl scout cookies, so no Bake Night tonight. I will now curl up with a good book. With no difficult characters in it. Ha.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Oh, difficult people - I think the lesson I'm FINALLY starting to learn is that there's nothing I can do to control them, I can only control how I react to them. Also, they do add a little zing to your day - fun stories to tell later! :)