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Balancing compassion without being a pushover

ajhayesajhayes Northern Michigan Veteran

I have encountered a situation at work which is really testing me. I'm trying to remain kind and compassionate (difficult on a good day) while not getting steamrolled. There is another department that is trying to undermine all of the work that I and my section-mate have done over the last year (in my case) and half year (in his case). When the person who was previously in his position retired, I was left with little direction and with minimal knowledge, outside of the scope of my job, of what needed to be done. This other section wound up taking all the credit for everything that I did before the replacement arrived.

Now, that other section is trying to make us look like we're not doing anything. The way that we're conducting business is changing (for the better) and naturally people dislike change. My previous coworker didn't really do what her written job description entailed, leaving me/us further behind.

(Sorry for the vague background. Details aren't tremendously important)

If I were still in the Army (where I had a license to be quite unpleasant) this would have been handled in a series of cussing out, yelling, and potential fisticuffs. (Simple solution, right?) But, now that I'm trying to be a decent person, the solution is not as simple. I am having a difficult time letting go of anger and working in a more compassionate way. I know that it is possible to be kind and firm at the same time, but, I'm having a difficult time finding a proper balance.

What I/we are doing is simply presenting things as they are with fact based evidence and providing our management with the proper tools to sort things out. This is quite a challenge, and ultimately I find these stupid games to be a waste of time, but, people seem to love playing them.

I'm very thankful that I have the coworker that I do. He is intelligent, rational, and just fun to be around. (with a sweet beard to boot.)

Thank you for reading my wall of text. I'll continue working through this, and any suggestions or nuggets of wisdom are always appreciated.


  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    If you are already working with management on it, I'm not sure there is much more you can do without risking causing more/worse problems. Do you have the discretion or power to speak to the management of the other section? Or is that what your management is doing on your behalf? If they take credit for what you have done, what does that impact? Sometimes, the impact is huge and sometimes not so much, which is why I ask. Sometimes we want credit just to serve the ego with recognition, but sometimes that credit has an impact on our promotions, on our proper pay, etc.

  • ajhayesajhayes Northern Michigan Veteran
    edited May 2017

    @karasti what complicates matters is that it is management from the other section that is a part of the problem.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    First of all, I think we need to acknowledge that while Buddhism is a great way of Life, it's not a cure-all. That is to say, when the rubber hits the road, it's more important that we are true to ourselves, rather than to any tenets we might imagine Buddhism is constructed of. Put 10 Buddhists in a room and I guarantee their views on certain situations will all differ. Yet they all purport to follow the same path...

    I think what you're wrestling with here, is a form of manifesting Compassion, and as has been discussed on many occasions now, it comes in two guises: Idiot and Wise.

    Idiot ends up helping no-one (the pithy saying "No Good Deed goes Unpunished" springs to mind) and Wise ends up on top. Maybe not immediately, but certainly in the long run, without a doubt, as I have occasionally found.....

    What you want to do is make sure nobody gets hurt.

    Which, inevitably will leave you feeling dissatisfied, because those who deserve it, will evade 'Justice', as you have sought to display and manifest Compassion and Kindness.

    Yet here you are, in a turmoil. In other words, you're the one who's "hurting" because you find yourself at a loss....

    "Speak your Truth. Tell it 'as it is'. There is no reason to do otherwise".

    If you're dissatisfied, say so.
    If you feel the matter is unjust, say so.
    If you think there is a balance to be redressed, say so.

    You have a cause, and a right to voice it.

    The important thing is HOW you do that.
    What measures, channels and manner you adopt.

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    If it is - and clearly, something is definitely wonky - fix it.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    You can only do whatever you can do. Be honest and straight-forward with whoever necessary to get the matter addressed. But beyond that, all you can do is practice letting go of expectations of the outcome if you cannot control it. Obviously, yelling, cursing and fisticuffs is unlikely to end well for anyone in this environment. But one isn't a pushover/doormat just because they don't resolve issues that way. There is a lot of space between fisticuffs and pushover.

    Just because we might choose to practice compassion and empathy doesn't mean we have to excuse bad behavior. We just try to understand that we aren't seeing things from the same perspective as the other people are and as a result it's causing a conflict. We can't force them to see our perspective but we can attempt to see theirs, even by making up fictional possible reasons. I do that a lot, and do find it helps. I might not know why someone is behaving the way they are, but I can imagine things that might cause it and it helps me to soften towards them. That doesn't mean I don't follow through with necessary work, but it does help me be less angry and frustrated in the mean time.

  • NamadaNamada Veteran

    When you have someone trying to sabotage and take all the credits for you and youre colleague's work, you can not just let it pass and pretend everything is ok. I had done as you plan to do, tell this to your manager, and the more evidence and witnesses you have, the stronger you stand in your case.

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Namada said:

    When you have someone trying to sabotage and take all the credits for you and youre colleague's work, you can not just let it pass and pretend everything is ok. I had done as you plan to do, tell this to your manager, and the more evidence and witnesses you have, the stronger you stand in your case.

    Agree 100%

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    It would depend on how one chooses to interpret the verses 3 & 4 of the Dhammapada...

    "The Story of Thera Tissa

    While residing at the Jetavana monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha uttered Verses (3) and (4) of this book, with reference to Thera Tissa.

    Tissa, son of the Buddha's maternal aunt, was at one time staying with the Buddha. He had become a bhikkhu only in his old age, but he posed as a senior bhikkhu and was very pleased when visiting bhikkhus asked his permission to do some service for him. On the other hand, he failed to perform the duties expected of junior bhikkhus; besides, he often quarrelled with the younger bhikkhus. Should anyone rebuke him on account of his behaviour he would go complaining to the Buddha, weeping, very much dissatisfied and very upset. The others also followed him to the presence of the Buddha. The Buddha told them not to harbour thoughts of enmity, for enmity could only be appeased by not harbouring enmity.

    Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

    Verse 3: "He abused me, he ill-treated me, he got the better of me, he stole my belongings;"... the enmity of those harbouring such thoughts cannot be appeased.

    Verse 4: "He abused me, he ill-treated me, he got the better of me, he stole my belongings;"... the enmity of those not harbouring such thoughts can be appeased.

    At the end of the discourse, one hundred thousand bhikkhus attained Sotapatti Fruition."


    "Let us all give a warm welcome to Anatta ! ..."

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited May 2017

    The Buddha did not work in an office or for a living.

    Put the situation clearly in writing. Send it to all levels of management/colleagues/union/etc. you can, by memo or email. Do not accuse. State what is.

    Only Buddhist tip: Stay calm.

    Hope that is helpful. B)

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    We are talking about ones feelings & attitude towards the situation... and when it comes to human nature...not much has changed in the last 3 thousand years...especially when it comes to the difficulty of letting go when all ones buttons are being pushed....

    Ask yourself Do I want justice? Or revenge? in many situations there's a thin line separating the two, they can become somewhat blurred ...especially when "anger & frustration" are involved.. .

    Perhaps "meditation" is called for...It may help to eventually calm the mind allowing compassionate thoughts to circulate and perhaps insight wisdom too will arise....

    However, if you are still feeling angry about the situation, then send your self to sit in the naughty corner for some time out...

    In the long run @ajhayes how you choose to handle the situation is entirely up to you...it's your peace of mind that's at stake....

    May the situation be resolved peacefully for all parties involved....

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    A difficult situation... I've had to cope with something similar and I'm sad to say I found no solution except to eventually leave the company. Wishing you and your co-worker well :)

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited May 2017

    The most satisfying thing about letting go is "knowing" there is nothing stable/solid to cling to in the first place...Just as there's no "clinger"... Tis just monkey mind messing with the mind... (Thus have "I" heard :) )...

    I feel another "Um this reminds me" coming on.... :winky:

    The Empty Boat

    "If a man is crossing a river
    And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
    Even though he be a bad-tempered man
    He will not become very angry.
    But if he sees a man in the boat,
    He will shout at him to steer clear.
    If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,
    And yet again, and begin cursing.
    And all because there is somebody in the boat.
    Yet if the boat were empty.
    He would not be shouting, and not angry.
    If you can empty your own boat
    Crossing the river of the world,
    No one will oppose you,
    No one will seek to harm you."

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited May 2017

    I actually find that allegorical simile to be relatively ridiculous, personally. There are too many metaphors for it to make any proper sense.
    I meantersay, pick the bones out of that one.

    Just sayin'....


  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Hang in there OP.......like everything else, this too shall pass.

  • ajhayesajhayes Northern Michigan Veteran

    It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass. ;)

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