“You never know till you try to reach them how accessible men are; but you must approach each man by the right door.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher
Office dynamics are fascinating. Put a bunch of unrelated people together in a pressure cooker environment and you have a recipe for a complex blend of interpersonal relationships. The right mix is critical, as the office atmosphere is made or broken on the texture of those associations.
No matter how effective an organization is at marketing its products or services, the underlying office dynamics always manage to make their way to the surface. What is present at the center and at the top of any organization not only conditions the whole, but is also magnified as it moves outward into the market served by the company.
I have worked, studied and lived in a variety of settings, each of which had its own unique corporate culture. The standard and expectations were typically set by the man or woman at the top of the organization, be it a school, company or nation. Living in a socialist republic, for instance, was much different in outlook, function and feel than living in a capitalist republic. Likewise, working as a stockbroker in a large financial firm was night and day when compared to working as an entrepreneur in a small company in the spa industry.
One thing I never understood is how one person could lack empathy for another, even if the sole motivation was enlightened self-interest. I’ve seen peers who obviously would benefit more by working together dig their heels in over the most ridiculously frivolous issues, refusing to take even a moment to see the matter from the other perspective.
In my experience, the overwhelming majority of people are eventually accessible, if you can find, as Beecher put it so well, “the right door.” Some make it harder to find the right door than others, but most people I’ve met have a heart of gold. In most cases you have to deal with defense mechanisms and booby-traps on your way to the door, but no matter how circuitous or tortuous the path may be I have found that patiently investing whatever time it takes in my fellows – never giving up on their ability to reveal the highest and finest of which they are capable – is well worth the effort.
Some people loathe high expectations, yet they have a funny way of scampering out of the exits when the pressure comes on. I have never found it necessary to judge those with whom and for whom I have worked, as I have found that they reveal themselves when the heat is on. Those truly dedicated to the purpose of the consociation do what it takes to continue moving toward the goal, while those whose underlying interests and orientation focus in relation to some other purpose tend to go their own way. This works out in friendships, relationships, work associations and just about anywhere else human beings associate.
Others thrive when the stakes and expectations are high. These are my favorite kind of people. They maintain their composure and respect for others, even when they are uncomfortable. They understand the limitations of others and seek to complement their weaknesses, while fortifying them with inspiring appreciation and compassionate guidance. They admit, recognize and embrace opportunities for constant growth and development, as much in their ability to serve others as in their cultivation of new personal skills.
If you have advanced in life, it is likely because another found the door in you and knocked until you opened it and you granted them entry. In my case I had two unwavering and understanding parents, a fine and noteworthy extended family, a handful of superb teachers, several exceptional mentors and a willingness to make myself vulnerable to help and support. A good number of them were nuts, but unlike their botanical counterparts, even they were dehiscent and could therefore be encouraged to open up and reveal their inner greatness.
Sure, you can force your way through life, grabbing this and that along the way, but what comes as a result of such an approach is a hollow mockery of what could have been had you based your approach on respect, empathy and love for those with whom you are privileged to associate in your personal and professional life. There are no shortcuts, but take the right path and the joy, productivity and lust for life that ensues is well worth the wait…and the effort!