Impatience has almost been a way of life for me. Fortunately, I realize that it is one of my pitfalls, and I have been working to improve on it for quite some time now.
Greeting my colleagues with a “Good morning” everyday is a habit I’ve fallen into willingly. Firstly, it is the right thing to do. Secondly, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Who would want a grumpy colleague trying to get back at you for some perceived injustice you did the previous day, anyway?
At times when the good mornings turn into small talk, I try to avoid being the jerk and participate in the conversation, even though I would rather tune out the small talk, and mind my own business. But that is how far I can go. I despise meaningless small talk with people about whom I wouldn’t care after work. Admit it, every one of us has a few set of colleagues who we wish would disappear from the face of he earth.
So, one such colleague of mine, chats me up on my office communicator and asks me a question that questions my work ethic. I am the kind of person who accounts for the 1 hour permission I take to leave early from work, when the masses generally skip the 2 hour late entry they make. So I found the question very offensive, and clearly stated that he was under a false perception. And when this colleague of mine, repeated with the “Are you sure?” I got pretty mad. “You can check with records, to make sure that you’ve got it right”, I stated matter-of-factly and put an end to the conversation. Now, I was downright annoyed with this petulant conversation, and hoped to never talk to him again.
So, for the next few days I try to avoid being in any place where I would be forced to come into contact with this colleague of mine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen the way I want, and as this colleagues chats me up the next day I give him one syllable responses against my usually long ones. I guess this indifference must have irked him, because he began to take jabs at me, for which strangely I did not react. I kept giving numb responses like I couldn’t care less. So this keeps happening over and over again, that is, him taking shots at me, and me replying indifferently.
Normally in such situations, I would have let the other person get under my skin, and would have blown off my top. Fortunately this time around, I didn’t. Usually the person who ends an argument with “Whatever!” has lost the argument. For once, I did not mind losing. And it so happened I did not. Because, a few days later, I was talking to a friend of mine when he walked past us. He stopped dead in his track and started poking fun at me again, and I kept mum as usual. And then it happened,”I’ve been trying to provoke you so many times, and you seem not to react. What’s up with that?” he asked, trying to guise it under his comical tone. “I’ve gotten used it”, I stated calmly. And he mumbled,”Whatever!” and moved on.
That’s when I realized by not allowing him to get under my skin, I got under his. Even though he tried to push it aside, he was clearly frustrated that I did not get worked up by his constant annoyance, and was taken by surprise by my retort that he had to resort to “Whatever!” “Gotcha”, I thought to myself, and just grinned. For once, I had handled a tough situation even as trivial as might be in the right manner. I was pretty pleased with myself, and I still am.