This is currently one of my favourite quotes:
“Sometimes the people we find it the most difficult to be kind to are the ones who need it the most”.
I think I made it up but no doubt someone has said it before in a much more erudite way. Wherever it comes from, it’s a good reminder that sometimes ‘difficult’ behaviour is a cry for help. You will undoubtedly know people at work like that.
I thought about this recently when I was asked to mediate between two members of staff who seemed unable to work effectively together. On the surface, one of the two was being very difficult and the other had got fed up trying to accommodate her moods and rudeness. I am not a great advocate of confrontation in this type of case, so came at this slightly sideways. One of the reasons I love the MBTI is that it’s perfect for situations like this. It helps me explore potentially very difficult scenarios in a way that leaves the person with their self respect intact and avoids them becoming defensive.
I used the MBTI to help me highlight some of the less helpful behavioural traits while also focusing on her positive ones, which her employers valued highly; she was an excellent scientist and they wanted to keep her.
I also used the MBTI with her colleague and, once we’d established trust, we were able to share and talk about the issues by referencing the MBTI characteristics, taking some of the sting out of the situation.
It very quickly became apparent that a series of unfortunate life events had led to this truculent and rude behaviour. I could have made a good guess at that at the outset but it was important that both reached those conclusions themselves. It was a classic case of this particular individual needing kindness, but perversely making it very difficult for people to be kind to her. Once we’d all realised that, the situation began to improve.
Next time a colleague is really driving you mad, why not try a little kindness? Your instincts may be telling you to tell them to ‘go for a funny run’ (one of my Mum’s expressions meaning go away NOW) but try to over ride that. You can do more good than you know with a smile and a kind word.
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You might also enjoy Is Kindness Under Rated at Work?
Posted on May 25th, 2015 by Jane