Tough Love and Dealing With Difficult People

I entered the world of work 14 years ago as a transparent, heart-on-my-sleeve young professional...ready to join a team and "take on the world." It never occurred to me that the pettiness of high school and college girl drama would find its way into my work world. My first job proved to be pretty drama free, but then I hit graduate school two years later, and I was shocked to be shunned by a full-time professional there, especially after learning that she didn't trust me because I was "too nice." I didn't handle that feedback well. There were tears involved.

Back on the career journey horse, it was two positions and schools later when I faced another "mean person"...more than one. But I was prepared this time. I created strategies: For one person, I worked on changing my attitude and perceptions. For another, I found something she was passionate about, and I let her talk about it. (Remember that people like to talk about their kids' accomplishments...every time!) For another, I just learned to let it go because some people just need to be unhappy about something.

So, with that history, it was with a smirk (of success that comes with experience) and humble nod (realizing I wasn't alone in my suffering) to read this week's Culture and Manners Institute email:

Not everybody is going to like you. No matter how nice you are (and we know you are!), no matter how hard you work or how much you contribute, some people will find something not to like about you. We know it's hard to believe and it's very sad. (sniff...sigh)

Now that you know, it's time to pull up your big boy pants (big girl pants) and say, "That's THEIR problem." Try not to make their problems your problems. Always look for the good in others and be kind to the people who do not like you. In fact, smile at them -- frequently. Don't let them win.

So, recent college graduates...and older alumni who are still wildly gripping to keep your heart from slipping off of your sleeve...chew on this bit of insight as you deal with "that person" today.

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