Quinn was new in the office. During a brainstorming session, he was fast to chime in with his opinions. During meetings, he was fast to assign blame.
A co-worker pulled him aside and told him that wasn’t how the company operated. Quinn replied, “That’s just the way I am”. His boss called him in for a conversation and told him that wasn’t how things were done in the company. Again, Quinn said, “That’s just the way I am”. His behavior continued. He wasn’t fitting in.
Quinn was being himself, and often that is good. People are better able to thrive when they can be true to who they really are. Being true to yourself, however, doesn’t mean perpetuating behaviors that are causing you or others problems. It means living in integrity with your core values, using your special gifts and maintaining good boundaries.
As always, it is always helpful to remember that we live in community and the way our words and actions impact others matter. They make life either better or worse – for us and for others.
When behaviors cause problems, as did Quinn’s, it is time to reassess. Quinn’s outspokenness might have been an indication of his belief in honesty. It might have been a habit formed in his family as he grew up. It might have been eagerness to excel and make his mark. Whatever the root cause of his behavior, it wasn’t working and begged to be explored. It is possible to be honest without offending others. Childhood habits are not always productive and can be unlearned. Eagerness is more effective when appropriately targeted.
When someone’s behavior causes problems, that person is the problem. It is up to that person to assess the consequences and decide what kind of person they want to be, how they want to be perceived by others. It is up to that person to know whether it is appropriate and desirable to continue behaving as they always have or to grow, to evolve from the experience.
When someone chooses to ignore the negative impact they have on others, people start to question that person’s character. “That’s just the way I am” is seen as an excuse, a “justification”. It is heard as, “I don’t care what you think, this is how I operate and I am not about to change”. This is both rude and arrogant.
Life is a series of growth experiences. Quinn missed it. He was told his behavior was a problem and ignored the warnings. When his probationary period ended he was informed his services were no longer required.
If you find yourself in the center of problems, be open to examining your behavior and learn from it. You will feel better about yourself and others will respect you for it.