Conformity – When is it ok to just say “Enough!”

I had a conversation with a good friend today.  I struggled to stay open-minded to the situation (on his behalf) but it was hard to not be a little emotional about it.  It really got me thinking about the different aspects of conformity.

My friend has been struggling for a while with a very difficult work situation.  He was “asked” to shift his situation within his company to another.  In doing so, he was being asked to relinquish many years of forged relationships, a team that had grown to be a well-oiled, finely tuned customer satisfaction machine, and a personal standard of excellence he had passed along to everyone who has had the pleasure to work with him.  In doing the right thing for his company, he walked away from this safe harbor to “better focus his talents” on areas of the business that really needed that level of expertise and care.

In doing the right thing, he managed to put himself into a really challenging situation.  He was thrust into a situation where he was responsible for working directly with someone who we will (in the interest of being kind) call a bit challenging, difficult and at moments simply disrespectful.  This hard working friend had to live with both private and public berating, lack of clear direction and vision, and a lack of respect for the talents that he brings to the table every single day.  His boundaries were thoroughly tested and it is a testament to him that he has managed to stick it out and turn the other cheek.

Part of the issue that I have with this was that he had made a concerted effort to address this situation and to explain this issue to others in positions of authority.  On several occasions, it was noted that these people understood fully just how challenging and difficult this person was, but in turn he that he was going to deal with these kind of people all the time and he would need to be the bigger person, suck it up, and learn to overcome this.  To a point, I understand this because it’s very true that we aren’t going to get along with colleagues that we work with all the time.  But it really got me thinking about this from a higher angle.  When does it become ok to just say no to these types of people?  When is it not the responsibility of the group to learn how to work with the one and not the other way around?

I’m certain it’s a issue of corporate culture.  I’m certain that many companies would approach this very differently.  But why does it seem like so many companies take the easy road on this front?  It seems so often that  we cater to the most difficult people in the situation by asking the ones most likely to turn the other cheek to do just that.  At what point is it ok to defend the people that carry the company’s reputation upward by being good hard working people because asking them to change instead of those that are more difficult is the easier way out.

It’s a bit of a slippery slope, I understand.  Either direction you go the expectation is that someone if not both parties will need to give a little.  Such is the nature of compromise.  I’m perfectly understanding of the nature of give and take.  But we’ve all been in this situation and know that at times it just can’t always be diffused.

I equate this issue to the current trend of bullying going on amongst our young people today.  Someone who feels they are superior to others works to impose their will on other people.  If our child was in this situation, would we ask them to turn the other cheek and just do their best to comply with a bully?  Absolutely not.  About a week ago I watch a Dateline story regarding bullying and how young people should respond.  Kids are being taught to stand up for themselves and tackle this situation head on…don’t be a victim.  Why then would we expect adults to respond differently to these types of people?

In an effort to try to offer some comfort to my good friend and brother, I’d be interested to hear some advice on how you handle drawing that line.  Not just in terms of being the bigger person and taking the fall to neutralize negativity and disruption, but also when it gets to a point where there is obviously not a good solution to be found for a harmonious relationship to ever exist without a mutual compromise, what are some ways of handling this scenario other than the obvious choice of simply walking away and giving up?

~ by bfmooz on June 16, 2011.

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