I am a person who strives to treat each person I meet with respect and kindness, and I expect that those with whom I choose to work, socialize, and develop intimate relationships would treat me in the same manner. As a result, I am always temporarily taken aback when folks don’t respond in kind. Of course, I realize that humans aren’t always on their best behavior. We all have bad moments and sometimes even long, dark bad spells in our lives. However, once we schlep off those dark webs, we make our apologies and amends and rejoin the ranks of our mutually respectful peers.
There are, however, those who derive immense satisfaction from siphoning the respect and kindness out of our otherwise grace-filled lives. What is most saddening about these people is that they will often make a show of cooperation in public and then go behind closed doors with their conspirators to gossip and gripe and make assumptions about their coworkers/friends/lovers’ motives, authenticity, intelligence, and so on. These folks are, without a doubt, a serious drain on any intentional community’s resources. They stunt business growth; they sabotage friendships; and they poison intimate relationships.
Oddly enough, very often these purveyors of negativity don’t even know what they are doing. Their souls are so twisted by the gossiping and complaining that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for them to straighten the spine of their character and see the damage they are causing. They likely believe that they are the only ones to see the “truth” of a situation.
Unfortunately, these are the people who find themselves terminated from jobs or passed over for promotions for what seems, to them at least, no reason at all. They are the ones who have constant falling outs with their friends and family. They cannot get along with lovers or spouses and believe the other is always in error. They are the ones who think everyone is out to get them. They sincerely believe that their constant foul mood is someone else’s fault.
Generally, we can distance ourselves from such people and not allow them to take up space in our circles of friends. However, in the workplace we face a difficult situation. If we are the coworker, we have little say in the person’s continued employment. Some will find a new job rather than put up with these energy vampires. Others will stay on, trying to help the twisted one straighten up and see the light. Some perfect the art of avoiding and ignoring the naysayers. Sadly, others will succumb to the negativity and become twisted themselves.
When we are the employer, we must be more proactive. Energy vampires have no place in an organization that seeks to grow. Coaching, mentoring, and training can and should be offered. Respect and kindness should be modeled by management and expected from employees. Those who can’t or won’t follow this lead should find themselves jobless. Respect and kindness towards positive, productive employees demands that managers remove those who disrupt the work environment.
I have been mulling over these thoughts and realizing that the necessary actions are easier to voice than to execute for those of us who truly care about the people in our lives. It seems that respect and kindness go hand-in-hand with hope and forgiveness. And yet, the day must come when action is taken before the integrity of the community is forever shattered.