Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Working with Normal People

Be grateful for the normal people in your workplace, but never forget that there arev villains, maniacs, impostors and fruitcakes beneath some of those calm exteriors.

It is truly a blessing when the people for whom you work, or the people with whom you work, or those who work for you – are normal.  Most of us take reasonable behavior for granted, just as we take for granted our sight, our hearing and the use of our arms and legs. 

We shouldn’t take these good and decent souls for granted because there are lunatics amongst us.  There are villains and maniacs, impostors, fruitcakes, and thieves lurking behind the most pleasant exteriors. 

I’ve had both kinds of experiences in my thirty-five years in business.  For the most part, I’ve been very fortunate.  I’ve had a wonderful and trustworthy assistant for twenty-seven years, and the great majority of the people with whom I have worked have fallen within the broad parameters of what we would call normal.

But there are those who would lure you into a sexual harassment suit.  There are those who would attempt to steal your employees while you’re on vacation.  There are those who will kill you by stealth, others by laziness and stupidity, and others by sheer maliciousness.  There are lots of people out there who are genuinely nice, but have a faulty moral framework.  This kind of person believes that it’s okay to cheat as long as you don’t get caught.  Here’s where you have to watch your office supplies.

It isn’t always apparent that someone is a nut.  You discover the fact in increments sometimes.  That’s when you’re lucky.  They betray themselves with a comment or a minor departure from the norms with which we relate to each other.  There are others, who are truly mad, who will flare up like a supernova, in a single moment of fury, vaporizing any evidence of the normalcy that preceded it.  Consider yourselves fortunate when that happens, too – unless the person throws something at you.  But all too often, we discover the evil done to us as a fait accompli – after someone has stolen from you, whether it be cash or information or personnel, or has left you in a state of chaos by either negligence or design. 

When you think about it, it is surprising that we are able to work with each other with such a high degree of cooperation.  But never forget that anarchy lurks not too far beneath the surface.  Be grateful for the reasonableness, but bear it ever in your mind that, while you’re taking too long at the copier, the guy behind you could be fraying at the edges.