Paul Butler: Working with others

Paul Butler
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We moved recently, and while connecting to our new Wi-Fi address, I noticed that one of our new neighbors had the Wi-Fi network name: “I Hate People.”

I don’t know whether this was some sort of sick joke and they really are a people-person or, no they really do hate people. I keep hoping that one day I am going to bump into my new neighbor and find them either to be super-bubbly and full of life or come to realize I’m living close to a potential serial-killer.

Let’s dance on the dark side for a few minutes and imagine this person really does not care for people — I wonder what kind of spouse they are, if they’re married? I wonder what kind of parent they are, if they have children? I wonder whether this person honors their parents. I wonder what kind of sibling they are, if they have siblings themselves?

Extrapolating this mindset into the workplace, I wonder what kind of employee they’d be. If you really do hate people, I can’t imagine you’d enjoy working with them. I wonder what kind of service this person provides to their customers. If you really do hate people, you won’t want to be serving them. What about if my new neighbor is a supervisor of others at work? Can you imagine working for someone who deep down hates you?

There’s an old phrase: “Money makes the world go around,” and I think that should really be changed to: “People make the world go around.” For us to be truly effective at work, we have to be able to work with others. We have to be a “people-person.” I understand some of us tend to be more extrovert and others, quite introvert but generally speaking we have to be able to talk to; listen to and collaborate with others.

I remember my Mom and Dad telling me as a young man about to embark on the world of commerce that business is no more complicated than people working with others (called “colleagues” and “vendors”) to serve other people (called “customers”). They said that money is just the fruit that falls from the tree when we do it well. That always stuck with me.

I’m no psychologist — I’m a recovering accountant, but I think I understand enough about the human brain to realize the way we think drives our behaviors. There’s a Proverb that states, the way we think in our heart dictates the way we are. For someone to proclaim: “I hate people” — that’s a behavior because behaviors are what we say; don’t say; do or don’t do. Our behavior comes from how we think — if someone thinks: “I hate people,” it’s likely to come out in their behavior. But according to that Proverb, the way we think comes from what’s in our heart — so my new neighbor really has a heart condition.

I hope this person has a heart transplant this year. In fact, I hope anyone who seems to “hate people” at work has a heart transplant this year. The skills necessary to give some a new heart is way above my pay grade but I hope such negative and nasty people do see their need for a new way of looking at others in 2020 and beyond.

This predicament also begs the question: “How did they get this way?” I mean, what happened to them to make them this mean? I truly believe that one of the many human attributes that differentiates us from animals is our ability to choose our response to what happens to us. Whereas the fox will take the chickens and the dog will chase the cat — we have each been created with the free-will to choose our response to what happens to us. We are response-able. We can choose to respond based on principles such as love and grace while we exhibit self-control rather than metaphorically biting and devouring each other. Becoming bitter and angry to the point of “hating people” is like drinking a bottle of poison and expecting another person to suffer.

Let’s choose our response to people even better in 2020 and be reminded that we have to work effectively with our colleagues and vendors to serve our customers — just like Mom and Dad said.

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