Respect the Position, if Not the Man

img129We’ve all worked for him – the boss that is just a horrible human being and an even worse boss. You don’t know how he (or she) is married or even has a pet that doesn’t bite him constantly. It probably didn’t start out that way.

I know it never did for me, whether my new boss was male or female. I went into the new job with hope and optimism that this was going to be the company where I could make an impact, where I could climb the ladder all the way to the top.

Here’s where we all collectively sigh, because we’ve been at this long enough to know that will probably never happen.  And even if it does, there will still be someone who can put a wrinkle in our day. I wish there was a solution to this problem, but there isn’t really.

No matter how much we would like people to change, they won’t or can’t. Change and growth is something that only happens when we’re willing participants. If we’re not no amount of force from other people can make it happen.

We can’t change our bosses or anyone else for that matter. There are days when we’re sure we can’t spend another second in their company without becoming a Tasmanian devil and unleashing fists of fury on them. So what can we do? Change jobs for what seems like the millionth time only to face the same personality in a different body? Become an eccentric recluse, living off the land? Finally go off on the boss and end up serving time in jail?

Options, options.

But there is another option. It took a lot of time and work, but after I realized I couldn’t change anyone else I figured out that I could change myself. Or, more importantly how I reacted to my bosses. It took a lot of trial and error, emphasis on the error part. I may have mentioned this before, but I haven’t always been the most patient person in the world.

That’s when I remembered someone saying to me, ‘If you can’t respect the man, respect the position he holds’. I don’t remember who it was that said it – may have even been my mother – but it’s something that has helped me over the years. Why, you ask?

Even if my boss is someone I will never get along with or respect, he (or she) had to have done something to get where they are. Most times he is older than I am and knows more about life in general. Also, he holds my financial future in his hands. That’s an important one to remember.

But aside from that, there’s a certain amount of respect that is intrinsically linked with positions of authority no matter who holds them. Humans are fallible, imperfect, and capable of such horrendous errors of judgment no matter what position they hold. So to hold anyone in such high regard that you think they can’t make a mistake or hurt you is only asking to be disappointed.

So respect the man (or woman) so far as they are another living, breathing creature capable of doing good even if they make mistakes, but more importantly respect the position they hold. The position was created to guide and manage and is important to the company (country).

I have found that remembering that takes some of the fire out of the anger and irritation I feel. It makes it possible to hold my tongue just long enough – most of the time. After all, I am human too and capable of those same horrendous errors in judgment.

So, if you can’t respect the man, respect the position he (or she) holds, and see if it doesn’t make things easier.


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