Friday, June 11, 2010


My mother worked as an industrial nurse and when I was growing up, she would always have stories about people that worked in her plant. It was always fun for me to sit and listen to mom talk about the various personality conflicts that would happen in the work place and how she, as a member of the human resources team, would often be called in to help sort out the issue.

When it comes to getting along with people, some of the most sage advice that I ever received came from my mom. She told me that in life, we will come across people who rub us the wrong way and quite often, the negative personality traits within that person are actually present within ourselves - or are positive traits that we wish we possessed.

Moreover, my mother believed that there are distinct personality types in the world and there's an excellent chance we will run in to the same personality type over and over again. So, it's best if you learn how to get along with a wide range of people and when all else fails ...


There is a lot of truth (and good advice) in those words. And for the most part, I really do strive to recognize, appreciate and respect the variety of personalities I encounter in my life. Although, I will admit, I've noticed that I've got a series of "triggers" that if activated over a sustained period of time (i.e., two laps on the neighborhood track), will drive me absolutely crazy.

Before I go on, I'd like to interject that a lot of things drive me absolutely crazy these days (or rather, few things don't). While it's perfectly logical to blame my personality "flare ups" on the hormonal warfare that is being waged in my body, that feels like such a cop-out and I really don't want to make any excuses.

Still, yesterday and again today, I've been in meetings and at those meetings, there have been a lot of triggers. Now most of the time, probably because I work from a home office and am relatively isolated, I can take things in stride. Like when people interrupt or talk over me. Or are so loquacious and self consumed they can't focus on anyone but themselves. Or when they are trying to prove how intelligent they are by talking exceptionally fast or exceptionally slow.

(Are those traits in ME?!)

But when I'm in a room full of this, and unable to get away from it, I can feel myself start to deteriorate. So all morning, it felt like my buttons were being tickled. Then pushed. Then JAMMED. And I'm trying to emanate peace and serenity.

I'm trying to be patient, quiet and kind.

But it isn't working.

Because my body isn't picking up the signal from my brain to CALM DOWN since my arms are crossed and my chin is down and my eyes are up and my brow is furrowed and when I'm interrupted for the umpteenth time and feel like my competency is being challenged, I'm scowling and feeling very much like a bomb preparing to detonate.

Thankfully, the explosion didn't happen in a room full of people. It was just me and one other person when I lost all reasoning and black dots flashed before my eyes and a sudden and uncontrollable case of Tourettes erupted. As quickly as it started, it was over. But golly gee, I sure do wish it had never happened at all.

Right off the bat, I can think of at least two ... er, maybe five but no more than seven occurrences where I've lost control of my mind and tongue. And people I know, who moments earlier might have thought that I was a real sweet little thing, are totally shell shocked because they realize I'm a TOTAL NUT, when aptly provoked.

I'm working on this, Dear God, I'm working on keeping a tighter rein on my patience and emotions.

Tonight, when I was folding a load of laundry, I happened to catch the movie, "Evan Almighty" on television and there was one particular scene that struck a chord with me.

God is talking to Evan and he says, "Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?"

I pray for patience EVERY DAY. And obviously, God is giving me ample opportunity. But perhaps I should start praying for something else because when those key moments are present, I'm clearly NOT prepared.

Since I'll soon be working in an office with others, maybe I should start praying for medication and a muzzle.


  1. I am terribly impatient, and I'm appalled by incompetence. These traits do NOT make a good coworker. This is another one of those realms in which my children have made me a better person. In teaching them tricks and skills to manage their frustrations, I've cultivated them in myself. Number 1: Deep breaths. Lots and lots of really really deep breaths. Number 2: Singing. Seriously, I'll go to the bathroom and hum a few bars of something, and then I feel better.

  2. I work in a customer service type job with sometimes pretty low income/functioning persons who have pretty grand ideas and expectations about what the world in general, and I specifically, am supposed to do for them, without an appointment.

    I can't tell if its older age and a different perspective since I'm a mother now, or just this job, but I have been MUCH more direct with my "customers" about how rude they are being and how unreasonable their expectations are. I think my outbursts behind closed doors about how rude a jackass was that I just saw, has been mitigated by me just clearly letting the person know that their expectations and behaviors are getting in the way of them being successful. I, of course, don't call them a jackass, but kind of make them feel like one... in a nice way. Is that possible?

    Hmmmm.... maybe I'm just being a bitch. Oh well. I'm happier.

  3. Jen, I can so relate to your post! There are certain types of people that just make my teeth itch. Oddly enough, I freed myself up by concluding I could absolutely not *change* them, but I *could* go with the flow and feel better. It helps to sit there and think something along the lines "You are such an idiot, dude."

  4. Thanks for posting this! I have been feeling exactly the same way at work lately and it's nice to know I'm not the only one who feels they need medication and a muzzle!!

  5. Great post! Yes, times when you lose control are almost like out-of-body experiences. You can almost see yourself from outside, but are powerless to stop the outburst.

    Your mother was a wise woman and I am grateful for the reminder today to be patient, be quiet, be kind. Please God that I can remember to be patient, be quiet, be kind for the rest of the day....

  6. Your mother is very wise. Makes me wish I knew her. Please, from someone who's mother did not teach them these lessons about people (more the opposite/very negative) but had to learn them on her own (and is still learning), will you make sure your mother knows just how much you love her. I don't know why I feel compelled to say that, and I hope you don't think it strange...but your mother sounds like a warm and wonderful human being. -Karen

  7. Oh. My. Word. I so needed to read this post. And I SO do not like it.


    Nothing personal. Just know God is about to give me some "opportunities" with some things I am praying for. Thanks for the heads up. :-)

  8. Are you *SURE* you really wanna go work in that office???

    I know EXACTLY how you were feeling and what went on. That is why I stay as far as I can from people!

    ~Cindy! :)

  9. Hahaha! I love it. So honest & truthful. I totally understand what you mean & often feel this way too. I think it's pretty normal....

  10. Before I had my first set of twins, I had a 2yo and an infant and I prayed daily for patience. Then I had twins. My mom told me it was because I prayed for patience. The next time around I had wised up, but somehow God still thought I could work on my patience so of course we had a second set of twins. And then, just to make sure I was REALLY learning the skill, He took my husband away to Iraq and sent me away from family. That line from Evan Almighty could not be more accurate IMO.

  11. I try never to pray for patience for this exact reason!! LOL

  12. Pray for wisdom! That is a prayer that pleases the Lord. When Solomon asked for wisdom all other things were added. (For goodness sake don’t pray for strength or you might beat those interrupters to death!)