My daughter has been calling me daily -- distraught and discouraged about her job. She works in a small office of a small company that is struggling, and the atmosphere is unhealthy. The editors look down on the employees that run the office and the advertising department. The owner, trying to keep the publication afloat, is sometimes tyrannical in her tactics, and everyone -- instead of working together as a team -- is too busy trying to protect themselves from an attack.
I give her what advice I can -- don't take things personally, strive to be pleasant and professional. Treat others the way you want to be treated -- and tell them that's what you expect of them in return. Be firm and honest, but keep emotion out of it. Easier said than done, I'm afraid. I hate that she is so unhappy and that I can't do anything about it. So I ordered a book for her today -- The Dance of Anger -- that helped me at one point in my life and hope that it will help her. In the meantime, I let her vent.
I heard about a hook-in recently during which members of a visiting guild made disparaging comments about immigrants and the elderly and used profanity despite the presence of a 12 year child. They pushed aside other's equipment so they could sit together in their own little clique. They also complained bitterly about having to move their cars off the church lawn, and the fact that the host guild would not move their rug show date to accommodate the change they made in their own rug show. Petty complaints and bad behavior ruined the day for everyone.
I've belonged to an online rug hooking group for several years, always reading the messages but never posting. One of my New Year's resolutions was to start participating there. I've met some lovely people this way, from as far away as New Zealand and Nova Scotia, Southern California and Seattle. There's a wealth of new ideas and information in this group, but yesterday the moderator posted and then emailed all 3,000 plus members a not very nice message about deleting previous posts when you send a reply to the message board. (If previous messages aren't deleted the replies can get ridiculously long.) The threat of being removed from the membership sparked a flurry of messages both supporting and rebuking the moderator. The sad thing is several people removed themselves from the membership. They felt as though they had been rapped on the knuckles by the teacher.
Why not approach the situation differently? Why not start every month with a brief, pleasant post reminding us to delete old messages? Everyone forgets stuff now and then. Some people are new, or forgetful, excited to post, or technologically challenged. Nobody is perfect. And really, how hard is it to use that nifty little wheel on the mouse that lets you scroll down the page very quickly, avoiding unwanted passages? What's happened to the camaraderie and companionship rug hookers are known for?
When my daughter is upset, I remind her of how I deal with similar situations: I try to put things in perspective. Will a problem at work really matter ten, twenty, thirty years from now? Would it be better to be unemployed? Homeless? Stricken with a deadly disease? Would it be better to be living in Syria, or Somalia? And really, just how hard is it to be nice? I firmly believe positive energy begets positive energy. A smile can change the world -- and so can good editing.