Friday, May 11, 2012

Maturity: Prejudice, Gossip, Professionalism

It's never been easy for me to deal with conflict. In a lot of ways, I am stubborn, but I try my best to listen to what people have to say when they have some sort of valid opinion to make. In that way, I like to think that I'm open-minded. And I think open-mindedness is crucial to disagreeing and solving issues. It's really the only way to be truly pragmatic.

It's impossible to sit down and reason with someone who won't listen in the slightest. Stubbornness can completely cut off any form of problem-solving before it can even start. And honestly, that frustrates me. There are plenty of people in my life that cannot listen to any sort of reason and cannot listen to an opinion that isn't their own. They're the people who do nothing but get defensive about any form of conflict and have to be right in the end, and these are the people that I'm beyond puzzled as to how to deal with.

For some further understanding, "your," and "you," refer to stubborn people who don't listen. There's no one person that I'm writing about, no matter how much an individual reader might think so. This is about a lot of people in my life who all act almost exactly the same.

First of all, because of your unwavering opinions, it's impossible to have any sort of true compromise. Sure, you can walk all over me and shove your opinion down my throat, but just living with that and ignoring the fact that I'm going to resent you for what you do and myself for not standing up for myself at the end of the day is going to make us both insane.

Second, it becomes impossible to not be in conflict with you. Even being understanding and trying to listen to you won't help. In a lot of cases, it makes you even more defensive by just agreeing with you and listening to what you say. Giving you what you want doesn't even make you happy. From that perspective, maybe your attitude towards life is about attention and causing conflict. Perhaps that's all you want. If so, I really don't know how to treat you like you're an adult.

The rest of this post is about gossip. I was looking for a quote about gossip that I couldn't remember and came across two that really spoke to me. I'll save the other one for later.

What you don't see with your eyes, don't witness with your mouth. -- Jewish Proverb

Translation: don't gossip. If there's one thing I learned from Mrs. Reardon (other than to be accepting and live without serious prejudice, which I spoke enough about in the past), it was her unwavering stance on not gossiping. She was the first person to really put it into words. She believed that before you tell a story, you should ask all the people involved if they don't mind you sharing it, and make sure that they know what you're going to be spreading around. Best case scenario? Directly quote someone. Don't paraphrase. Even then, our storytelling can't convey all details of how something was said, or what was meant by it. Even when we fully witness an event and take a serious hand in it, we don't always understand every bit of it. We're bound to come off as biased in our telling of a story because we only truly have one perspective.

Gossip honestly hurts everybody involved. Consider that you spread a rumor around that a friend of yours told you was the truth. It turns out it was an enormous lie and all it did was hurt another friend of yours's reputation. Sure, the truth comes out eventually, but does it matter at that point?

It's ridiculous to me that we are all now 19+ years old and we still haven't figured out how to keep our noses out of everybody's business. It's impossible for everybody to separate their personal and professional lives, allowing them to casually blend together into an inappropriate attitude towards their career and an overly serious attitude towards their close friends.

The thing is...most people just don't care. They aren't worried about being a professional to their peers in their degree program. They don't worry about the fact that everybody around them gossips to the point that rumors spread like the plague. They just do ridiculous things, digitally photo-document it on Facebook, and expect the world to not worry about it.

Some of us are in a position that we have to be leaders to the people around us, even though those people don't take things seriously. Even if those people don't respect you because they hear rumors. We have to lead them and tell them what to do sometimes, even though they don't listen. In some ways, I wonder how it's possible to have control over a group of people that you have to lead. Is it really possible to have friends and be in control of them? Is it really possible to control a group that can't respect you because rumors spread? How is the truth supposed to matter when all people listen to is gossip? How can we do our jobs when the majority of people are closed-minded and ignorant to the truth?

The short answer is that a lot of people need to do a lot of growing up. It takes understanding to deal with conflict. It takes some work and some though to keep our personal and professional lives separate, but it isn't even remotely difficult. It takes a little bit of respect and a little thought. Some emotional maturity and listening. But it's not impossible for us to not spread rumors and be ridiculous about the fact that not a single one of us is perfect and our personal lives don't reflect our attitude as a professional. 

That's about it for my rant. I leave you all with the most thought-provoking and enlightening quote I found:

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. -- Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam