Having opposition used to be something that I avoided when I was young. It would be great to please everybody – not to be too dominant in one colour or to take sides. Just be beige. You can imagine that this is a tiring job. You have to maintain a poker face, seemingly agree with everybody, and yet voice disagreement to other people who disagree – not wanting to take sides, and wishing to be a friend for all.
My career at various financial institutions awakened something within me – that beneath this beigeness, there’s actually been quite a strong, dominant personality and leadership. This also brought issues. I tend to see things logically or in binary terms. For example: what do the rules say? You didn’t follow them? What? You encountered problems? Tough luck, matey. You knew what to do and you didn’t do them – don’t blame others if things went wrong.
My style of rebuking had rubbed people the wrong way in the past – by being too direct, too strong, and by lacking finesse. The years have tempered me down, so now I’d choose the battles that I need to take, and ignore the things that are not essential. I also do my best to voice my opinion or opposition in a more palatable manner.
I am also grateful for the environment that I work in at the University. People disagree all the time, especially when different people from various schools of thought tackle an issue together. What I learn from academia is also to be able to handle opposition and disagreement like a mature person – not to sulk, to become bitter and somebody who plays the person instead of playing the ball. Some of my friends are grappling with this at the moment, being pulled and pushed from various sides. Some choose to be beige and non-partisan – in the guise of being an open-minded peacemaker, and perhaps an easy cop-out for not wanting to make a stand.
As I get older, I appreciate those who can say things openly and make a stand. Whether I agree with them or not, that is irrelevant. If I disagree with them, that is fine too, as the issue itself does not make the person. I have learned (and continue to learn) to separate the issue from the person. I am disappointed with those who may have issues with me and dare not say openly to me for the fear that I would dislike them. Some choose to say nothing, knowing full well that the issue is bugging them. Others choose to openly agree with me while saying otherwise behind my back. Well, it’s true that there is a risk that I may not like them after they communicate with me openly – true. However, as somebody who is learning to be wiser and more mature every day (with God’s grace), I hope I can fix the things that I truly need to fix. I’d rather have a good and transparent friendship and relationship – even if some of the rebukes and words hurt me (for my good), than something that is built on niceties and nothingness that please my itchy ears.
You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.