Significant Stuff

May 15, 2010

I have a basic view about people that I’m re-evaluating.  The view is that, regardless of how incredible their results, if someone makes life hard for their co-workers, they ultimately aren’t worth keeping around.

Years and years ago, when I managed a customer service dept., I learned this lesson.  I had a superstar service rep.  The customers loved her.  She was also hell on wheels to her co-workers.  Moody, manipulative, insecure, and high maintenance.  You know the type.

Later, working at the faire, I ran into this situation repeatedly.  There are some superstar performers out there.  The audience loves them, but the rest of the cast hates having them around.  They’re moody, manipulative, insecure, and high maintenance.

Inevitably, in both situations I learned that there are other people who can do the job just as well as those superstars but they also make life better for everyone inside the company as well.  So, the lesson I learned is that life is too short to dread going to work.

Why am I re-evaluating this conclusion?  Well, I’ve recently discovered that there is something to admire in almost everyone.  That realization radically dulls my initial gut reaction for difficult people.  It’s one thing to try to grudgingly wrap my head around reluctantly having to be around someone versus focusing on what I admire.

Admiration is a good frame of mind to be in.  But, I must be honest, if I need to actively find those admirable qualities in order to continue the association, I may be reluctant to put myself in proximity with that person again in the future.  It may help for the short term, but right now it colors my desire for a repeat performance.

I know there are toxic people in the world and sometimes it’s a good choice to keep them at arms length. I also know that, at a certain age, it’s not uncommon for people to radically re-make themselves.  I know one woman who has been a bitter person her whole life, so when she started beaming sunshine a couple years ago, I was suspicious.  But, it took.  Wow.  Bonus.  Freaky, but cool.  Just when you think you’ve got someone pegged….

I also read an article this morning which suggests 4 criteria:  Performance, Ethics, Mission, and Community.  Seems as good a set of standards as any to start with.  And, it’s much more well-rounded than just focusing on community – which is what we’re talking about here.

So, the bottom line is, I’m wondering — do I need to just put on my big girl panties and get over it?  How many chances does a person get?  When is it worth it?  How do I do it?


Susan Scot Fry

Update…  Ron asked me yesterday if I thought the people who had prompted this reflection would recognize themselves.  I don’t think they will.  It really is a conglomeration of people in my life past and present, who made me start scratching my head and wondering.

There are no hard and fast answers.  Which is an answer in itself.  Every day and every situation is a reflection of past experiences and attempts to do the right thing for the future.  We can escape the former by living in the moment.  The trick is to somehow marry the lessons that we’ve learned with a willingness to live in the moment.  To drop pretense or judgment.


5 thoughts on “May 15, 2010

  1. Hmmm…. the epic discussion every ensemble hits. When creating ensembles (even for a weekly project), those four things really do hold true to how people pick who they want to work with, but I don’t believe they are equal to all people.

    Some people put far more enthusiasm on the final product and so “performance” is a higher priority than say a person that relishes in the creation process, as meandering as it may go, and so they put more stock in “community” or “mission.”

    I also know of some amazing pieces that were created by people that do not consider each other friends… but they go in to those works knowing what their role in that ensemble is.

    Most interpersonal conflicts, I found, while in creating ensemble theatre is when someone has a false sense of their role in the ensemble or simply doesn’t see the ensemble, just themselves.

    There is a great quote, I believe it is a poem actually, up in the bathroom at Dell’Arte which I will now butcher and paraphrase, but here I go:

    “Help me to forgive the shortcomings of those around me
    So they can bring their bests in hopes that they will do the same for me.”

    Joan Schirle, Dell’Arte’s school director, always warns that in this process of life, people will change, the way they work will change just as we are changing everyday. Never assume you know someone.

    I say take every moment as it is thrown to you and roll with the outcomes.


  2. I think, if you’ve tried to help the toxic person make wise changes to benefit the community and they refuse or can’t change, then 3 strikes you’re out.

    I hate confrontation but if I don’t like my job or my joy in my passion or avocation is ruined by the actions of a toxic person despite my efforts to mitigate them or help the person change then that person needs to find somewhere else where their passion or joy will be engaged since it isn’t being done here.


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