Inspired by Justin Hoenke’s great post I decided to make my own list of libraryland/professional things I learned in 2010.
1. Not everyone is going to like you
This was probably the most important and the hardest lesson I learned. I was having a conversation with a friend in April when he said these words to me, and I’ll admit at first I was pissed. Easy for him to say I thought, then I cut the conversation short and went right back to feeling slighted.
But the words stuck with me and as I thought about it, I realized the truth of them. There are plenty of people I don’t care for, some for very good reasons, others just rub me the wrong way. I try to be professional and courteous to everyone but I’m sure at some point these people have felt slighted by me. Of course if I don’t like everyone I certainly can’t expect every to like me. And I don’t want them to. I’ve always believe that if I’m not rocking at least a few boats I’m doing something wrong. If I have done all I can to connect with someone and they don’t like me I need to stop wasting my energy whining about it and move on.
I felt even better when a few months ago I stumbled across an old post of Karen Schneider’s How to be “famous” (wink wink, nudge nudge) in which she writes:
Some people will resent you no matter what. I’ve had to get comfortable with the fact that some people really do not wish others well. Some will badmouth you publicly, and even worse, some will badmouth you sotto voce. I hesitated about even writing this post, which I’ve been thinking about for close to a year, because in my head I hear a voice making snide remarks about so-and-so thinking she’s hot stuff (hence also the cautiously qualified title). But hence the next piece of advice:
Own up to your own feelings. I spent years whining that “so-and-so doesn’t like me” before I got honest with myself and acknowledged that the feeling was mutual. Likewise, boycotting an activity because another famous so-and-so was invited is also not cricket (yup, seen it happen, thought about doing it myself). Be an adult, please. You may not think highly of this person, but someone does, so put on your best public face and do what needs to be done.
If someone I admire and respect as much as Ms. Scheinder has stuggled with these feelings I must not be so horrible after all. Which leads me to my lesson:
2. Admit you are human.
A year ago I wouldn’t have written a post like this, admitting my flaws so publicly. Fortunately I know some amazing people. Every time I see a post like the one by Justin that inspired this post or the one previously linked to one by Karen I am awed and slightly jealous of the comfort they feel being open and honest. I’m not sure what I expect to happen when I open up, but when I do I amazed at the reaction from others. People, for the most part, are kind, compassionate and want to connect to and help others, even me!
While I feel I have learned this lesson this year, this area will no doubt continue to be a work in progress for me.
3. Don’t take things so personally.
For years I have hated this advice, to the extent that person offering it was risking a swift kick in the shins. I mean really, it’s happening to ME how am I supposed to take it? This year I’ve come to realize that the problem with taking things personally is it negates your ability to calmly, coolly and affectively deal with the situation. Taking it personally activates your fight or flight response neither of which works today’s world. (Unless you actually are being chased by a lion, then in that case, by all means, FLIGHT!)
A lot has happened this last year: transliteracy has grown amazingly quickly with both the blog and the Interest Group which has made the word a big target and sometimes me along with it. People have quit group projects they started with me, abandoned articles, publicly called me rude and condescending after repeatedly being rude and condescending themselves, declared my work and effort a waste of time, a joke or a ploy for attention, these things have been said publicly and occasionally privately when they thought I wouldn’t find out about it, then I did anyway.
I’ll admit it, I ranted or swore or cried or all three, occasionally at the same time. But in the end I really only have two choices: I can either accept that I have no idea what is happening in the lives of these people an assume they didn’t intend to be mean or spiteful or petty or cruel. Or I can:
4. Ignore the assholes.
I know I don’t usually swear on this blog, but I love the book The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. I think a great deal of improvement would be seen in libraries if every manager from the director on down had this book sitting in their office, proudly on display and more importantly subscribed to the practices it talks about.
Some people are just assholes, they are unhappy, miserable and petty and find great joy in spreading this around. Ignore them. Find away to remove them from your space- don’t read their blog posts or their Twitter feed, filter their emails to the trash so you never have to see one again.
Don’t misunderstand I’m not advocating never acknowledging someone who disagrees with you. It is possible to disagree or to argue without being an asshole. But the assholes are out there with their drive-by-snark, their flip comments, name calling, juvenile attempts at humor. I know some people think there is value in engaging with these individuals I do not. I find every time I give into the temptation and engage these individuals I came away feel dirty and am reminded of the words of George Bernard Shaw:
I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.
4.5 Haters Gonna Hate - Edited to add about 30 minutes after hitting publish, this is what I get for not sleeping on it. But its so closely tied to four I’m ok with sneaking it in here.
Have I mentioned how awesome my friends are? They are. A different friend than I mentioned in number one said this to me earlier this year. He’s right. They will. The real power is in letting it go. It may sound cliche and maybe juvenile but the truth is those people, the Haters, they are gonna hate nothing you or I do will stop them.
Some visuals on haters from two of my favorite blogs. Above a very recent drawing from Indexed:
Below: An older drawing from The Gaping Void
What did you learn this year?