Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Getting on with People

Responsibilities and pressures are compressing my personal world just now, and over the next few weeks I shall be letting go of a few more activities and therefore also the human interchange that is involved. As fewer opportunities occur to spend time working with others, those that remain and continue become more precious and important.

I am not a natural politician, and I find that the politics of human organisations (small 'p', usually) difficult, annoying and at times openly painful. It's hurtful when I see people speaking ill of those who, to their face, they greet warmly - but then I think: don't I sometimes do the same? Not with malicious intent, at least, I hope - but it's hard to leave your troubles at home. My best intention always, on the occasions when someone has crossed me or done or said something to hurt me, is to set that on one side and move on, but in practice it doesn't always work out like that. Sometimes there's too much pain and you just have to yell "Ow!". Sometimes hearing that the person has done the same thing to someone else is what opens the floodgates. Well, that's sort of OK if there's a real intention to do something about it in a constructive way - but does it really help anyone, other than in a very transient fashion, to stir the pot just for the sake of it?

I remember reading some fascinating stuff about toxic environments (in the work place, in this case), what causes them, and what can be done - particularly as regards the perpetrators, I suppose. Jealousies and rivalries, friendships that aim to be exclusive, the teacher's pet syndrome, the inability to leave outside those problems that have nothing to do with this group - all of these can produce an environment in which a group of people is failing to achieve what they are aiming to achieve because the perspective and priorities have shifted from the ones properly set.

I should say at this point that most of the people with whom I work are very good at keeping things on track, and also at listening sympathetically and offering a friendly response when - for any person in the group - things seem to be getting tough and difficult. In one group to which I belong in particular, this has produced an environment so positive and supportive and mutually affirming that if I could bottle it and sell it I probably would! I do aim always to get on with people, and I hope I do manage to show people I work with how much I value them. Maybe singing in choirs helps - for a choir to work, we have to be there to help one another. Except where specially invited, there is no place for the soloist.

Which reminds me, to conclude, of someone I know who is a very good tenor soloist, with the ability (something I envy, really) to absolutely dominate where this is required. Such a good voice. But when he is singing a choral piece as part of the whole, that voice is unheard; it is reined back, doing the job now required of it, of being part of something, not forcing its way through or over the rest. Control! That is what we need if we are to get on with people, and if we are to get on as people working together.

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