fill in the blank

09 Aug

you can learn a lot about someone when ______________ . i’ve heard the phrase in lots of contexts: you can learn a lot about someone when the chips are down, times are tough, the unexpected occur, the deadline is approaching, they lose, and on and on and on.  recently, the events surrounding labron james and his decision not to shake hands after being bounced in the playoffs has come under fire, again bringing up the idea of how people deal with adversity is when they show their true colors.  i’m not so sure that’s the case.  why is it that when people react to someone difficult that is their true colors and not the other way around?  i mean, 95% of the time we aren’t faced with those tough circumstance, but the 5% of the time when we are stressed THAT is our true colors?  seems like it should be the other way around.  perhaps it is the idea that our true selves are being shrouded during good/stable times is what bothers me.  i agree we can learn a lot about people when we look at how they deal with the difficult but i’m not ready to say that is who they “really are”.  maybe it depends on the context.  my job isn’t generally full of stress so when deadlines approach or big events are  looming and the office gets a bit stressed it is seen as a seldom experienced event.  if i were in a job that brought tough times several times a week i could see my comfort level changing in this regard.  in the classroom i was truly the master of my domain – i was the only one of my kind on my campus and i dealt with my calendar, lessons, presentations and stress levels in isolation; perhaps more to the point it wasn’t necessary for me to witness the struggles of my peers.  no so in my current position.  with 2 BIG weeks coming up my team (in addition to nearly all the other pds teams in the building) have been getting ready and truth be told, this is what got me thinking about the whole “you learn a lot about…” but in reality i think this week has affirmed the old, very scholarly, adage ‘there is no wrong way to eat a reese’s’.  gathering materials, prepping presentations, counting materials, making copies, sending emails, gathering visuals, etc, etc, etc. is something we all prioritize in different way and in the end everything generally gets done.  it works…IF you are functioning in isolation.  example: if i opened a package of Reese’s cups and split it with a friend i couldn’t care less how they ate their Reese’s cup: edges first, inside out, outside in, crushed & smeared on a piece of wax paper – it just doesn’t matter to me, because i would have my own.  but what happens when we have to share?  what happens when my preparation is predicated on the work of other members of my team?  the whole working in isolation argument goes out the window.  in this case we may have 2 very incompatible systems that need to work together = the joys of collaboration.  while i certainly don’t feel the need to add disclaimers, for the sake of a stressful upcoming 2 weeks i’ll say that my system has worked to a near flawless execution with my team members.  the systems we use are far from identical, but they’re malleable enough to make it work.  my observations around the office just got me thinking.  perhaps i should switch to kit kats,  4 pieces but not nearly as exciting.


Posted by on August 9, 2009 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “fill in the blank

  1. Jeri

    August 9, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    The two weeks of August training used to be extremely nightmarish.
    Last minute contracts required late night module development and all sorts of intense prep.

    Things are really no longer as stressful as they used to be. Back in the fall of 2005, the department was much smaller and C& I had about 10-12 people. Most people singlehandedly trained stadium sized groups, got last minute contracts, and copied all handouts on a sluggish copier that was always jamming or didn’t work at all.
    Preparation would flow deep into the night and many a PDS’er could be found over in the main building copying at 10,11 at night. During that time, tempers would flare (mostly at the copiers), and people would be so tired they would be incoherent. The office emptied and even the dept head could be found training the masses. I physically missed it all since I was recuperating from a broken tibia.

    Because of the quality and commitment of the staff developers, the department begin to grow and two-partner facilitation and sending orders to the print shop became the norm. Campus equipment set-up and material delivery to schools made for less hauling and set-up issues and last minute contracts have all but ceased.

    But even though responses might have been more curt, or support wasn’t as generous since everybody was in a crunch, folks chalked it up to the season and when class was in session, everybody sat around laughing about the adventure. There was a camaraderie that could only come from collectively experiencing stressful times. And also, perhaps the smaller group allowed for open dialogue and the behaviors were not categorized as “that’s her/his/ their true nature”.

    Everybody doesn’t always pull their weight in the hectic times. When those who are more adept at heavy lifting step out in front and take the lead, sometimes others wait for them to do the work. And for those who always sit back and wait, that is their nature–it is who they are 95% of the time. They just cover it up by pretending it’s only who they are 5% of the time, in the hectic season when they think everybody else is too busy to notice.

  2. texasbuckeye

    August 9, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    sounds pretty miserable to me! i know what you mean in terms of teams of people and the bonds they forge going through tough times. i was in a fraternity in college…enough said 🙂
    i think you make an interesting point about the different reactions that people have when the heat is on, perhaps you are correct, that the 5% of the time we get to see it is the only time we are actually looking for peoples’ reactions. after all, how many people are judging reactions when its smooth sailing? i would contest that we learn lots about people when they get the spotlight as well, but i think that may be best saved for another post.

  3. cflores

    August 19, 2009 at 9:47 am

    You can learn a lot about someone when nobody’s looking. Often folks feel they need to be a certain somebody,or act a certain way when in the company of others. It all boils down to integrity. Your personality/demeanor/actions should remain constant in all circumstances. How are you when you’re by yourself? Do you do the same things as when you’re with others, or are you putting on a show at times?

    No doubt each of us will suffer trials and tribulations throughout our lifetime. There will be highs and lows, good times and bad times, frustration and joy all at the same time. Our character can be defined by how we react.

    I concu rDan, with the 5% rule. It doesn’t seem fair that that one time you are stressed and perhaps “lose it” that folks base your character on that. Unfortunately our society ALWAYS tends to focus on the negative. Look at the news. Filled with negativity.

    At the end of the day I think each of us needs to take care of ourselves, and refelct on what our needs are. When we are healthy, rested, and our families are in check ; we are able to find a peace and solitude in the chaos areound us. That enables us to be in our “best ” character at all times.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: