People you just can’t stand

I like to think that generally I can get along with (or at least tolerate) most people. However, I have to admit, there is one person in my research group that I really can’t stand. I’ve tried. Honestly, I purposely go out of my way to be nice and say nice things during meetings and other interactions. But, it’s finally reached that point where I’m ready to just give up and be brutally honest instead.

Thankfully, I won’t have any interactions with this person until next year, as we’ve had our last research meeting of the year, and I only have one more visit to campus planned. I’m hoping a couple weeks away will maybe give me a chance to regain some of my patience when dealing with this person, although right now I doubt it.

With grad students, you can generally count on them to have pretty large egos. After all, these students have done well through most if not all of their schooling and many have been awarded pretty large scholarships over the years. They’re use to people telling them they’re smart. However, when you combine that with many grad students also having pretty poor social skills, you can end up with people who are really just awkward in their interactions and often just don’t seem to “get it” when they piss people off.

Anyway, it’s a fact of life that you’re going to have to interact with and deal with people you can’t stand. Which means the only “solution” is to figure out a way to handle it. And the solution is generally to grin and bear it. Or, to try to figure out how to change yours or their behaviour. I’m not succeeding with either of these. The grin and bear it was my first attempt. The be nice was my second. The interact with as little as possible is going to be my third. After that, I’m not sure what to do. And, unfortunately, my interactions cannot be completely eliminated as we are part of the same research group.

The other thing that makes this a tricky situation, is that if both of us remain researching in the general area we are now and we both remain in research (whether through academia or industry) we will continue to cross paths for the rest of our careers. A truly scary thought. But, what it really points out, is that I need to come up with some solution that I can actually maintain long term. A solution I have yet to come up with.

How do you deal with these type of people? People who just rub you the wrong way? Any suggestions?

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One thought on “People you just can’t stand

  1. Being completely honest with a touch of humor might work for you as it did me. I had to work with a woman who not only rubbed me but everyone else in our group the wrong way. Our director, who hired her, never had to work with her directly, so he never knew how utterly annoying and obnoxious she was with the rest of us. One day I had enough and blurted out, “Jamie, we’re all drawing straws to see who will have the privilege of throwing you off the roof.” She wasn’t quite sure what to make of the comment initially, and it launched a very frank and productive discussion between the two of us, during which I told her that we were all fed up with her attitude, taking credit for our work, and a number of other issues. In the end, she thanked me for letting her know how everyone felt and she was a different person from that day on. We eventually became good friends. Go figure! Hope this approach might be a possibility for you, too.

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