Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Being the good apple

Now, I'm all for showing love for jerks. Sometimes they're just misunderstood or hurt or confused...but what do you do when you're in a group and there's one person that's just... ruining everything by the sheer fact that they exist? I don't mean a personality difference or occasional conflict. I mean someone that absolutely obliterates any harmony and happiness a group or organization may have ever known. The kind of person whose venom no one seems to be immune to.

I just finished reading this blog on Psychology Today that addresses these "bad apples". Unfortunately, it doesn't give too much insight (in this post) on how to deal with them, but it does bring up a very interesting point.

"Conclusions - "Bad apples" are people who are internally conflicted. These internal conflicts tend to spread up to the level of the group, decreasing the groups' complexity, flexibility, and their ability to grow and adapt. On the more positive side, conflict resolution spreads as well, up from inside us and into our relationships, and down from our relationships to make us more internally flexible as well.

Implications - Expect conflict. Embrace it as a human condition. It is a means to our peril, as well as to our future resilience. And if you run into a bad apple, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!"

That little bold part? Crazy important for anyone that aims (or has) to function as part of an organization. It tells me that if you want to truly resolve conflict, it has to come from you, internally to do so at any lasting level. 

Doing the whole business jig for the past few years, I've had my share of conflict resolution classes and one thing they don't seem to reflect, is that conflict resolution, very much like breaking up a fight, means you're very likely to incur some personal damage for the sake of maintaining peace. Even if a person, like me, isn't very prone to internalizing direct verbal jabs or general animosity, remaining calm and stifling emotional reactions while swimming deep in highly emotional situations does take a toll. 

I've come to realize that God has put me into a couple of situations in my life to pay that toll. Someone's even told me to my face that I have a calming effect on people. I genuinely enjoy that I can be an aid in adding a little rationality and calm to situations where there seems to be so little. Over the long term though, I've found that it can become burdensome, with me eventually harboring resentment and anger toward those who allow the "bad apples" to flourish be they the bad apples themselves, or someone else. 

Hearing God's guidance when it comes to timing of my involvement in situations is particularly difficult for me...knowing when to show up (not just when it's comfortable for me or when I'm excited about something) and when to leave (not just when I'm tired...or after I'm too exhausted to carry on) requires a lot of listening, which in turn takes vigilance in my prayer life. 

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