Learning How to Work With Challenging People and Situations in the Workplace

“The Grass Blows, The Wind Blows, and People Do What They Do.”

My mom told me that phrase when I was a little girl and it stuck with me all these years. Grass, Wind and People are some of the constants in life. You can’t change people. You can only accept them and learn to work or live with them as they are.

I’ve had so many experiences – so many chances to learn the above lesson. I had to work with an Assistant Manager, who in training with me so she could open her own branch office, for six months – and the whole time she made it clear she didn’t like me. I ignored it and focused on the task at hand. This made her like me even less.

One day I called an early morning meeting with both of my Assistant Managers to discuss the issue openly and honestly. I was professional – not afraid or weak. I asked her straight up what the issue was because it was starting to affect the attitude and atmosphere of the office (with over a hundred people around us). She replied in a cold tone that it was because I was all about work and I never asked how her weekend was. I wasn’t outside-of-work friendly enough.

Ok, lesson learned. I do tend to take my work and performance very seriously (which I also thinks contributes to my success mind you). The lesson was, continue working the way I feel gets the job done best, but slow down and take time to care more about the people that work next to you. There was no point in trying to change her or get mad about it. “The Grass Blows, The Wind Blows, and People Do What They Do.”

I worked with a pretty African-American receptionist for a few months in the Spring a few years back. I really dug in and tried to improve her performance to prepare for the busy season – a time when we needed all team members on their A-game. Unfortunately, she just wasn’t cutting it. Showing up late, answering the phone as if she were the most depressed person alive, and not taking any initiative to improve became something to expect from her. The only thing left to do was let her go and I was not looking forward to it. I always hated firing people, even if that was the obvious answer.

I pulled her into my office, sucked it up, and told her I had to let her go. She was very upset; begging to stay. With all the courage I could muster, I apologized and told her the decision had been made and that I would be a reference for her. I’ll never forget what she did next. She got this look of rage – wanting revenge. In a nasty, spiteful tone she said, “I know you’re firing me because I’m black! I’m callin’ my lawyer and I’m gonna to sue you for everything this company and you are worth!” . . . “The Grass Blows, The Wind Blows, and People Do What They Do…”

I told her that was absolutely not true, that I don’t have a racist fiber in me and if she really feels the need to sue me, here’s the phone. I turned my office phone to face her and waited. She stormed out. “The Grass Blows, The Wind Blows, and People Do What They Do.” Thank you mom.

I could go on and on about tough working experiences and incredibly happy ones. My dad always said, “For every high, there’s and equal and opposite low.” This can also apply to people you encounter. You’ll have clients you just adore! Then you’ll have a business partner that challenges the very core of who you are. Learning to work with many different types of people allow you to walk through more doors of opportunity and gives room for personal growth.

We won’t always know the perfect way to handle a situation, or someone’s attitude, or a mistake we made that caused someone to not like us. Personally, I just strive to be the best version of myself each and every day. I learn, I grow, I appreciate people (and I show it!). If you know you are walking in Truth and with the nest of intentions for everyone around you, you’ll learn to accept those tough challenges head on, prepare for battle, and win.

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