“We hate some people because we do not know them, and we’ll not know them because we hate them.”
– Charles Colton (English cleric and writer of the nineteenth century)
My stomach wrenched in pain. It wasn’t the physical thing. He’d just got up suddenly and yelled in the middle of the meeting, “You are a bunch of eunuchs, good for nothing, just whiling your time away and never productive.” I was shocked and totally gutted. My head exploded with a hundred possible ways to return the fire. But what I saw next left me stunned. Aki, my boss and the intended victim of the outburst, adjusted his glasses and smiled at the slanderer. After a pause- the time in which one could hear each other’s breath- he said softly but clearly, “Now that you have raised sufficient doubts on our gender, we need to do our homework and get back to you by the next meeting.” His disarming comment eased the tension, and a few other members laughed nervously, while the insulting man’s tirade stopped. He awkwardly apologized and sat down abruptly. I had never witnessed something like this in my life. Here was a blatant insult but expertly diffused by the chairperson.
Recognize the child within
I had just begun my secretarial services and was floored by the charm and ready wit of my boss, even under this highly provoking situation. I then started to associate more closely with Aki, to grow and learn from him.
One day I asked him the secret of his calm disposition. I wondered how he internally resolves the unreasonable and malicious judgments that his detractors sometimes pronounce on him. He said matter-of-factly, “I take their feedback seriously but not their behavior or the rulings on my character.”
Pointing to the recent attack on his effectiveness where he had been compared to a castrated, impotent man, Aki sighed, “Learn to see them- especially when they lose it- as children. If a child misbehaves, we don’t judge and see no mean intention. ‘The child must be hungry’ or ‘he’s got less sleep’ or ‘that’s sibling rivalry’- this is how we dispassionately see the conduct. Well, men do grow up, but I know there’s a child within them; there’s a cause for their bad behavior. They have enough worries in life; maybe they too are victims of their circumstances. I give them the benefit of the doubt.”
To be continued….