Friday, 7 February 2014
I think one of the lessons I learned going to university was that you don't have to like everybody you meet, and they don't have to like you.
The harder lesson, though, was that even if you don't like the person (and they don't like you), it's actually possible to work with them AND treat them with respect and fairness.
One of the first difficult people I encountered in university was a lady I was assigned to work with. She was difficult in the sense that she was very controlling and also very uptight about many things, which was very hard for me because I could be the same in some aspects. I used to get into 'trouble' with her every week because she would get her knickers in a twist every week because she was not happy with the way I cut the strawberries: she was upset when I cut them into halves, upset when I cut them into eighths, upset when I cut them into quarters, and after a while, I gave up.
One day, maybe after some 10 weeks of going round the bush of cutting her upset because she was never happy with my strawberries, I finally had a conversation with my professor...
Me: I really don't like her; she's always picking on my strawberry-cutting. They're strawberries!
Professor: Finally! I was wondering when you would realize that.
Me: I don't have to like her. Right?
Prof: Right. You don't. She's difficult. You don't have to change that.
And ironically, once I accepted that and stopped fighting, we actually worked together much better. For one, if she had problem with my strawberry-cutting, I gave the strawberries to her and told her to cut them.
Good thing I learned that in university. There's many a difficult people out there.
I don't have to like them all, but that doesn't mean I can't work with them or respect them.
In fact, I would go as far as to say it's one of the more important lessons I learned.