There was a time in my life when I had a supervisor I could not stand! I spent hours complaining to whomever would listen before, during and after the workday. And there were plenty of folks who were willing to listen and join me in complaining because she behaved badly. Ooooh, she made me sick!
Here’s why. She was the kind of supervisor who took the credit for your work. She was the kind of person that used her team members as scapegoats to protect herself—so others got fired, but she didn’t. She once had the audacity to ask me to read one of her books, highlight and mark it up with notes, then give it back to her so she could read my notes. (This was the same person who said she didn’t like to read, but liked having books because they made her look smart. As I write this now, I realize how comical this all was.)
But back to the point: she made me sick!
Then one day I realized something about her. She had to manipulate people—or so she thought—because she was limited. She was always in a state of panic figuring out her next move so that she could look like she knew what she was talking about when reporting to her supervisors. I watched her manipulate people, data and money as she progressively gained weight from stress eating. I watched her stress daily about how to keep her job, while setting others up to lose theirs.
I watched her until I one day said, “That must be a miserable existence.”
Always conniving. Always manipulating. Always thinking of the next lie and having to keep up with the ones before because of fear of whatever she was afraid of in her life.
I left that job not liking her nor caring for her as a person at all. And then time passed.
I began to realize that I was a better person—a stronger person—and it was because of her. I was stronger because I had to heal from the wounds she caused me (or really I should say, the wounds I allowed.) And as I became stronger something happened: I began to appreciate her presence in my life.
I saw that because of my experiences with her, I was not only stronger, but smarter, more empathetic and more loving. She served her purpose in my life and I am better for knowing her.
Unfortunately for her though, years later, she is still the same and I have since learned that she struggles personally and professionally. She has endured emotional pain and secret fears over time that surfaces as the behaviors I witnessed. Her wounds are deep.
Knowing what I now know about her has deepened my belief in the need to be compassionate with others. Now let me be clear: I am not talking about letting people walk all over you. Instead, I am talking about the need to empathize with those who behave poorly recognizing that there is pain beneath the surface—pain that you will probably never know nor understand. And quite honestly, you don’t need to. You simply need to know and understand that their poor behavior is your opportunity to shine.
So, who can you not stand? Who is behaving badly in your life? Who is making you sick?
Think of them now.
See their face.
Identify with the wounded child in them beneath the surface.
And now say, “I AM compassionate.”
For your sake and theirs, you need to be.