Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Would it kill me to be more compassionate?

I have an especially annoying coworker. He handles our printing, and you'd think that in a world where more and more advertising is going digital, he'd be grateful for the opportunity to do our massive quarterly direct mail projects. He's not. He always sighs heavily and is resistant and forever putting other jobs before ours because posters and more "fun." Unfortunately, we don't charge my Fortune 500 client the lower, "not fun" rate and therefore they deserve his highest level of service, as well.

I found out yesterday that he has cancer. The time off he took earlier this month wasn't a late-summer vacation, it was a biopsy. He has a few rounds of chemo in his future, and so we must be sure to copy his assistant, Rose, on every email. (I love working with Rose.)

I pride myself on being "one size fits all," and avoiding hypocrisy. Cancer does not make this producer less annoying. On the other hand, perhaps it does explain his lackadaisical attitude toward my projects. Maybe hasn't been feeling well these past 18 months. But then, I have seen him exhibit passion -- unfortunately it's been passion for other work.

See? I just can't simply be nice about this man.

I guess I just have to accept that the most I can muster is that I truly hope he's comfortable. I do not wish him, or anyone, pain, and I hope his treatments are successful. But I still don't like working with him and I still resent his attitude. I do.

I must work on this. I must learn to juggle clear-eyed honesty with compassion.


  1. Makes sense. Of course you feel bad about anyone at all having cancer. But having cancer does not make an individual a more likeable or less annoying person overall!

  2. You don't have to like this guy to feel compassion, which you obviously do. It's not hypocritical to call him on his shit, either, in a cordial way. When I have a situation like this--someone who is just unpleasant to deal with--I try to remember what a former pastor used to say: everyone is carrying a heavy load. It helps arm me for unpleasant interactions.


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