On Unthinking People

“All provocations given by unthinking people – and it is only from the unthinking that they can come – should be ignored.” Seneca, On the Constancy of the Wise Man 19:1
I’ve been in a managerial position of one type or another throughout the majority of my career years. So, dealing with difficult, stupid, stubborn, and rude individuals (whether supervisees, colleagues, or upper level managers) was an indispensable skill I had to focus on almost daily. I was expected to manage my employees, manage my boss and manage my colleagues in order to increase productivity while at the same time encouraging a positive working environment. Some days I did better than others.

I’ve always found effectual leadership to be self-sacrificing and somewhat exhausting. My leadership skills were not measured by empty accolades from others, but in my effectiveness in inspiring those under my authority to work as a team in achieving or exceeding various goals. Once those goals were accomplished, I still refused congratulations. I would instead recognize and applaud the team. My approach was satisfying when it worked. But, it was always challenging.

I’ve been retired for a few years now, yet I still find myself challenged by people who are at times disrespectfully and dismissively rude. Instead of being expected to positively influence these people and  banish them from my thoughts upon leaving work, a couple of these actors have acquired membership into the inner circle of my family. This new reality caught me somewhat off guard. Instead of trying to positively motivate individuals to accomplish some common goal, I find that I am expected to fit in with them by happily engaging in palaverous chitchat that is heavily seasoned (by me?) with liberal doses of fawning flattery.

I am disappointingly poor at performing my currently assigned expectations. I simply loath frivolous chitchat and flattery.

Perhaps as a result of this, one of these characters refuses to call me by name, claiming that he believes that such familiarity is disrespectful. However, the same individual has called me a jerk to my face on numerous occasions, which seems rather contradictory. If this kind of logic was being expressed by an employee that I could not easily have removed from the workplace, I suppose I’d just do my best dealing with him during work hours and forget about the person upon leaving work. Since in this case we’re talking about a person injected into my inner circle, there is no possibility of removal or forgetting, and I find the whole experience stressful.
“Still you are indignant and complain, and you don’t understand that in all the evils to which you refer, there is really only one – that you are indignant and complain.” – Seneca, Epistles 96.1
Complaining is pointless. What others think of me or what others do and say is outside my control. Being irritated by something outside my control is foolishness on my part. What others do and say is not on me; it is on them.
Someone will disdain me? That is his concern. My concern is that I not be found doing or saying anything worthy of disdain. – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 11:13.
I know I’ve said and done things worthy of disdain in my life, so perhaps I deserve whatever disrespect I now receive. In any event, I believe it is in my best interest to quickly overlook and disregard any  continued rudeness of others, no matter their reasons, justifications or relationships to me.

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