-An extract from Venerable Pomnyun’s book, Life Lessons–
P: The most difficult aspect of social life is not necessarily the work but, in many instances, our relationship with others. Especially at work, conflict with colleagues is often more stressful than the work itself.
Q: “My supervisors say things that don’t make any sense. They seem incompetent.”
P: A person told me about his difficulties at work. However, the expression “My supervisors say things that don’t make any sense” is very subjective. His supervisors are just communicating in their own way, but this person criticizes them just because he doesn’t like what they say. We can say that this person is very subjective in his views.
Each person in the world has different characteristics. I have my own point of view, and others have their own points of view. In the same way, I have my own values and others have their own values. Also, I may feel this way, but that person may feel that way. I work this way, but another person works in a different way. It’s just a matter of difference, not right or wrong.
If you are prone to making a strong distinction between right and wrong, you are likely to think only you are right and disregard the perspectives and values of others. You may score high in terms of work efficiency, but score low in terms of group harmony. You cannot be considered to be right just because you work very efficiently. Some people may be very skilled and efficient in their work but fail to work in harmony with others, which ends up negatively affecting the overall work. On the other hand, some may have good personalities but aren’t efficient in their work which is also a problem. Also, some people may be very likable, but indecisive when handling various situations which also affects their work.
Sometimes, some subordinates at work may cause you stress because of their poor work performance. However, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that your colleague or subordinates don’t do good jobs since you will then have a better chance of getting promoted. If your subordinate is a quick study and promptly manages to do everything you do and obtains in one year the know-how that took you 5 years to figure out, he may soon be promoted to a position that is higher than yours. When working with diverse people in the workplace, it is very important to accept that everyone is different. Instead of talking about what is right or wrong, you should acknowledge people’s differences and accept, “That’s just how he is.”
“It’s plausible, considering his life background, position, and conditions.”
“It may be natural for that person to act in a certain way, given his background, situation, and conditions.”
“It may be natural for my boss to view it that way, given his position.”
“It may be natural for my subordinate to view it that way, given his position.”
When we understand others this way, we are likely to get less stressed by their actions. Then, we are at peace, which in turn will help us work in harmony with others.
The person who talked to me about his stress at work told me that he recently had to undergo surgery after being diagnosed with a thyroid disorder. When we are highly dissatisfied, we are likely to become stressed and have a higher possibility of contracting various illnesses. People say that when we get angry our blood vessels pop out; anger brings negative energies which may adversely affect our health. If someone possesses a strong sense of right and wrong like this person, it is necessary for him to always keep in mind these thoughts: “I am different from that person” and “It’s possible that a person can legitimately view this situation like that.” Otherwise, he may not be able to endure and end up quitting his job. Precision and meticulousness are traits that are helpful in getting work done but may not necessarily be beneficial for social relationships. Once we recognize and accept that people are not all bad, we may find it easier to work together with others in harmony.