What it Takes to Get Along

Oct 02, 2006

Even though he’d only worked at Associated Consultants for about three weeks, Bob Smearhoff was sick and tired of his co-worker, Bruce McJerquartd. “That guy is an idiot,” Smearhoff found himself thinking at least a half dozen times a day. “I can’t believe the stupid things he says in meetings— plus, he is constantly yammering about golf and I hate that game!” Yet, Smearhoff and McJerquartd HAD to work together. Smearhoff was in charge of electrical engineering and McJerquartd was the head of mechanical. There was simply no way for Smearhoff to avoid interacting with him. As the weeks turned into months, Smearhoff’s wife, Cindy, got tired of his constant griping about McJerquartd. She knew if this continued, her husband would again be in the throes of the job search process, something she always found very stressful. There always seemed to be a “Bruce McJerquartd-type” that was irritating her husband, Bob. As a store manager for a large retail firm, Cindy Smearhoff reflected on her training and experience. She wanted to see her husband get along better with his co-workers. Here is some of what she told him: “Not everyone is going to have the same interests as you and be just like you.” Bob Smearhoff was fascinated with blues music, old cars, and baseball. “Those things are all you want to talk about,” she said. And then she went on to remind him about how he monopolized the conversation at their friends’ Joe’s and Judy’s house while at a barbecue there this past weekend. “I love you, Bob, but talk less about yourself and people will like YOU better,” Cindy suggested. Ignorance is the cause of much misunderstanding. Get to know McJerquartd better and maybe you will find he’s not so bad. “Ask him out to lunch some time— more than once,” Cindy suggested. “In fact,” she said, “we ought to have the McJerquartds over for dinner some time.” Have some tolerance. “It’s true that some people can be really annoying,” Cindy said. “But, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be a part of the company if they do their jobs well.” Keep your opinions about the other guy to yourself. “When you tell other people how you feel about someone, sooner or later, it will probably get back to them. Why create enemies?” Cindy asked. Bob Smearhoff took his wife’s advice to heart. He did what she told him and do you know what? He made the decision to get along with Bruce McJerquartd and his life was a whole lot better as a result. Even though they’ll never be best friends, they did occasionally have lunch together, and Bob Smearhoff was a much happier person. Originally published 10/02/2006

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