Grace is timid, shy, and generally a nervous creature. Putting her in an unfamiliar situation is not only uncomfortable for her, but something she most definitely does not like to do.
However, when she can, she makes the most of it. In workplace settings, this can also be a helpful tactic. Making light of an annoying situation, especially something that we know will be a short-term inconvenience, can help you get through the difficult moment with poise, which in turn can create good-will among your colleagues. But more importantly, it reduces, instead of escalates, the stress you and others are feeling in the moment. It provides some space for you to think through how to constructively deal with any larger issue, too.
If you’re asked to do something that you don’t like or don’t want to do, it’s important to know when and how to pick your battles. Will your efforts be beneficial for the greater good of the overall project or company objective? If so, grin and bear it, at least until you can create a strategy that will be more effective than a temper tantrum.
There are some things I wouldn’t subject Grace to, like taking her to see Santa Claus. A big, bearded jolly dude in a weird-looking outfit would be way too much for her. But sometimes I ask her to go beyond her comfort zone a little, and this past week was one such occasion. A wonderful, local pet shop was offering pet portraits for the holidays. The space used for the temporary photography studio was private and wouldn’t have a ton of people hovering (she’s not good in crowds), and there would be no Santa Claus there. Still, she would be the center of attention in a strange room with someone she didn’t know well, pointing a black piece of equipment at her. Not exactly her cup of tea.
To her credit, she did her best to do what we asked of her for that 15 minutes, which probably felt like an eternity to her. And instead of having a complete meltdown, she decided to have a little fun. I laughed out loud when I saw this picture of her sticking her tongue out at the situation.
Next time you are asked to do something you don’t want to do, here are some suggestions for moving through it:
- Put the situation in perspective. How does the one incident fit into the bigger picture of the project goals and/or overall organizational objectives?
- Find some levity, at least in the moment, to reduce your stress, and the stress of others.
- Have fun. Stick your tongue out, if that helps, for some good-natured fun. But then move on.
- Be strategic; deal with the bigger issue in a formal way if the situation requires it. You can’t solve a big problem by displaying anger or frustration in the moment, so funnel your energy constructively and at the right time.
When asked to do something you really don’t want to do, perhaps it’s wise to be a bit more like Jolly Old St Nick than Scrooge. It’s a good holiday reminder for all year long.