I remember when I started my very first job in Human Resources. In those days it was called Personnel Management and I was Assistant Personnel Manager.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to get that job. The Personnel Manager was a man called Ron. He looked like Santa Claus and had the kindest face.
Unfortunately, as I discovered, he was also the most racist, sexist and bigoted man I had ever met. He was also dishonest, controlling and manipulative. I think that about covers it.
I was green and eager to make a difference.
During my job interview, Ron tapped into my dream of getting into Personnel Manager. I couldn’t believe my luck. When he offered me the job I thought I was touching heaven with my hands.
Sadly, it didn’t last.
Soon after I started my job he changed his tune.
He expected me to do the secretarial work and when I fought my corner to get something approved, he’d say, “Sue, you haven’t made your point.”
Tearing my hair out in frustration, I’d go to Colin. He was the Recruitment Manager with several years experience and we got along really well.
He offered me guidance and advice and we’d often talk about the pros and cons of my ideas. If he agreed with the point I was making he’d go to Ron with the same point and Ron would say, “Do you think so, old boy?” and wave it through.
Fortunately for me, I didn’t care who got the credit as long as the measure was passed but the effort was exhausting.
To comfort myself I’d tell myself:
“When it’s my turn, I know exactly how not to be”.
And here’s the good news:
My turn did come when Ron retired and I was promoted to Personnel Manager and that’s when I was finally able to make a real difference.
In case you’re wondering, Colin found a better job elsewhere.
My point is this:
Everybody we meet has the potential to be a role model – both positive and negative.
They highlight the behaviours and attitudes we want to uphold as well as the ones we want to avoid, for example, people who lie, manipulate and control. People who are constantly criticising and putting people down. People who are always complaining. In short, people who drain us of our energy and confidence.
These people can be worth their weight in gold because they can make us aware of our own tendencies, for example to complain or be generally negative. The gift they offer is to make us go “Oops! Do I do that? I better stop!”
Next time you meet someone you dislike, instead of criticising or avoiding them, you might want to take a good look at them and ask yourself, “do I do that too?”
With love and gratitude