• Matt Brown

A Test of Life

Updated: Aug 16

Dealing With the Difficult


I haven’t written a post like this in some time, but I’ve been thinking. There are moments in life when we’re given things that, while don’t appear as opportunities, often are. Many of them are hard to recognize because they deal with some kind of struggle we never expected to face.


Over the past few months, I’ve been navigating my way through one such circumstance. And while at first, I didn’t see it. In hindsight, I realize that it’s a chance to become better than who I was before.


We have or are dealing with difficult people in our lives. It’s an unavoidable fact that we’ll encounter them. Often, we can easily distance ourselves from them. It’s at simple as closing a door or walking away.


I mean, lets be honest, who wants to deal with someone that stresses you out or makes you want to bang your head into a brick wall?


Sometimes, though, we enter into a situation where we can’t avoid the person. We see them day in and day out and it infuriates us. We might ask: Why are they like this? Or curse them in frustration. We might gossip behind their back indignantly, feeling justified for it. Honestly, and coming from experience, it solves nothing. And in most cases, it makes you look worse than they do.


I had a boss about a year and a half ago that was super harsh. She was competitive and driven. Problem was that nature drove her to treat people who failed to meet her expectations pretty awful. After working for her for nearly four years, I let resentment and anger take control.


I would say things, butt heads with her, and let my emotions constantly get the better of me. I borderline hated her. Problem was, right or wrong, she was my boss.


Recently, over the past few months, I was introduced to a new boss. Someone who ironically was just like her. At first, I reacted like before, but this time something was different. I came to realize through my new boss that I failed one of life’s tests. After not working for the old boss for a year and a half, my own issues settled down. I didn’t have anyone to provoke me.


It’s strange to say, but after comparing the two I came to realize how much my attitude and resentment fed into the situation. I mean, how many times did I lose my cool over something small? Or how many times did I refuse to back down from an argument I should have let go?


So, after a few heated arguments with my new boss, I had to take a step back and reevaluate. I mean, it sounds crazy to say that this was a new opportunity, but it was. Difficult circumstances and people often are tests of character. They provide a chance to grow, but are also extremely hard to see. But impact they can have on us is unmistakable.


With my previous boss, I let my feelings dominate my thoughts and opinions to the point of becoming blind. Right or wrong, she was still the boss. While you should never be a doormat, some battles aren’t worth fighting. It takes a lot to stop and step back. You can’t change a person by being hostile. They’ll only dig their heels in deeper.


So, what came next?


I think what made it really sink in was the similarities between each boss. Both are competitive. Both will do whatever it takes to be the best. Obstacles are things to remove on their journey to success. Your problems don’t matter, just get results. It’s harsh, but we all know someone like that.

With all this in mind, you would think: Why even put yourself through that?


My answer is simple, you can’t run from your problems forever. So, taking what I knew, I decided I needed to change. Because the only person I’m in control of is me. If my reactions and attitude can influence another person to become better, then fabulous. If not, then it still comes down to my attitude and decisions.


I can’t change anyone, but I can grow and learn to become a better person. I can recognize that my emotions and temper when allowed to run wherever the wind goes will only lead me into trouble.


So what came next? The answer was two simple words: Yes, Ma’am.


What I did or didn’t want to do didn’t matter. But would complaining or getting frustrated wouldn’t change the fact of how the thing should be done? No.

Even if my idea was better, that wasn’t the point. Voicing my opinion would have only escalated the problem. Knowing the requests made were driven by the other person’s desire to succeed, and prove her team can beat anyone who steps up to the plate, changes the perspective.


Was it easy? God, no. But again, the only person I have the power to change is myself.


That’s all the power any of us really have. But amazingly, given time, simple changes like this often have an incredible impact. All I started doing was giving a little bit of respect.


I’m not saying I’ve rolled over. Issues still came up, but they were dealt with properly. I refused to make the same mistake as before. I wasn’t going to let my temper get the better of me.


When there were moments that things got too much, I’d pray. I know it’s not something everyone adheres to, but for me it helps. It gave me a moment to stop and say, ‘I have a choice to make.’ Sometimes I pray for the other person. In this case, my boss.


I’m not calling down fire or anything like that. That’s just stupid. Most of the time it was as simple as, “Whatever she’s dealing with, help her through it.” Sometimes just acknowledging the struggle makes it easier to ease the hurt caused by it.


See, that was something else I came to realize. Outside of work, I only know part of the story. I don’t know about a text the other person may have gotten, or the harsh message from a child or husband.


Let’s be honest, how often has something thrown our way caused us to react and take it out on someone else? It doesn’t make it right, but it happens. Our responses, though, are so important. We all struggle, we all have things beating on us, but having the power to react to those things is crucial to overcoming life’s many challenges.

Moving Forward


So as time has gone on, slow gradual changes have happened. It’s not a paradise, but I can say work is better. I still get aggravated, but I can joke with my boss now. I may not always get a response, but comparatively, getting one response is better than nothing at all.


Do I disagree with her sometimes? Absolutely, but I will not let it get between me and the job. Frustrations still come, but the personal adjustments I’ve made have gone a long way to making a better place for me to work.


I think it’s important to try to see what’s going on with the other person. You don’t have to make yourself deal with a difficult person, but whenever you have no choice but to, something has to give.

For me was attitude and mindset. If anything was going to get better, the change had to begin with me. I don’t plan to be friends with my boss. That’s not my goal. But as I’ve worked on me, things have improved.


She’s still competitive, occasionally frustrating, and doesn’t always word things for the best, but she’s still my boss. I still have to respect her.


I hope you’ve found this helpful. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think. Again, I don’t condone forcing yourself to deal with anyone who makes things miserable or difficult. If you need to make change, and completely distance yourself, then that’s okay too.


Regards,

Matt

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