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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

On working with others

Published: December 9, 2011
Section: Opinions

As we quickly progress through life and its many stages, we come to a few roadblocks. We are faced with real world challenges such as taking crap from your bosses, absolute rejection in your work places and a whole host of disappointing things. Before we can get to this place, however, we must learn to work with others. Unlike kindergarten, we are not policed by an educator who is making sure we’re “playing nice” in the dolly corner. Because, when you’re an adult, no one is planning on playing nice. Working with others is an interesting experience when you’re on the brink of your adult years because it holds a whole new set of challenges.

Growing up, I was taught to stick to my beliefs and strive for my goals. I believe it was my parents’ goal to raise someone who would shake the world, but I could be wrong. I was not taught, however, that others were going to do the exact same thing. When you put two strong-minded individuals together in a work environment there are going to be intellectual explosions of epic proportions. So why do we do it? If you are a “type A” individual, much like myself, you get a lot back from chairing a committee or spearheading a campaign. Maybe it’s because, whether we admit it or not, we all live by the mantra “My way or the highway.” As strong leaders, we like to see things done our way. Let’s face it, our way is probably best. I’m just kidding, but only slightly.

Anyway, I digress. In the real world it is common practice to have someone by your side with the exact same responsibilities as you. This being said, we are only human and we are prone to a few personality flaws; we are going to have some serious problems with people trying to steal the spotlight. I hate to break it to you, but there are going to be these dreaded personalities who are going to do their very best to push you to the brink of your sanity. The title given to these frightening individuals is often preceded by the most horrifying prefix invented: “co.”

So to what does the term “co” actually refer? It can be “co-chair,” “co-president” or “co-I’m-here-to-completely-psych-you-out.” It is almost impossible for two people with similar tactics to work together. It is not natural and it is not healthy. There is going to be one person who makes a decision with which the other is not OK. They will even make this decision behind your back and implement it without you even knowing. You will have meetings where you have the unnatural urge to lunge yourself across the table and gouge out their eyes. Obviously you would never do this because then they would cart you off in a straitjacket with you mumbling, “Who’s going to confirm the event location …” If this is ringing a bell for you, then you know the feeling of complete psychosis when you are on the brink of completely blowing your cool and going on a crazy rampage. So fantasies of creative ways to slightly “maim” your co-person are a natural byproduct. So how do you learn to work well with your co?

Do you find ways to retaliate by pushing every mental button you find? Or do you try and kill them with kindness? Quite honestly, I still don’t know the answer. I have learned, however, that sometimes it’s not worth it to get your way all the time. I know it’s surprising if you know me. Is it worth completely alienating people just to be able to say that you got the job done? All I know is that we must suck up our pride, take a deep breath and try our very best not to go absolutely nuts.