I used to work in HR for an engineering company, supporting the new product engineers. They were, each in their own way, complete pains in the ass, like most high functioning smart people tend to be. The GM for this business was probably the smartest person I had ever met slash possibly insane. He was one of those people who can’t put a whole sentence together because his brain worked so much faster than his mouth. Once in a meeting with a Japanese client, he was describing his recent trip to Japan and was trying in his own little way to be complimentary of tourism in their country by telling them that he especially enjoyed visiting Hiroshima. Several days later he came in my office to ask if I thought it was offensive, just then realizing that the entire room went silent when he said this, and I had jumped in and changed the subject. “Nah” I replied, because what was the point.
On my third day of working there, I attended his staff meeting. I had been told that morning about a change to corporate policy – something not at all controversial or even interesting – and was told I should start communicating that. I was happy to have anything to contribute, because I could barely locate the restrooms at that point. When the GM called on me for my update, I gave them this non- controversial and uninteresting fact, and he went completely nuts. He started a rant about how ridiculous “corporate” was, how basically my entire job was a joke, and didn’t take a breath for probably 10 minutes. Now, I’ve been in HR a long time, so somehow this barely affected me. Plus, it was my third day; I sure as hell wasn’t going to take it personally. So I just sat there listening and didn’t fight back and eventually said “Great. Thanks for letting me know. You’re going to be compliant anyway, but thanks for the feedback.” He stared at me for a minute, and then smiled and was finally out of crap to say, so we wrapped up and I went back to my office. Within an hour, every one of his managers was in my office with the same words – “You’re part of the team now!”
It sounds awful, but it actually was not. It was his chance to air his many, many issues and mine to not back down, and it set the tone for what was eventually a really great relationship. It was also a way to bond with the team, which really helped a lot. I am reminded of this today because I had a not-very-good-day at work, the details of which do not matter, and a truth I don’t really want to face is starting to crystalize. Again, take some advice from me – do not tell the universe that you are bored. The universe will immediately respond with something like “Yeah? Deal with this, sucker.”