The one thing that will not change in our work-life

Now is the period of great transition that comes only once or twice in a lifetime. Everything that made up our society—culture, technology, lifestyle, so on—seems to be either breaking apart or morphing into something we haven’t experienced; the only constant element being the change itself. R.E.M., who once sang about the end of the world as we knew it, has also disbanded (looks like they felt fine about it).

I hope I am embracing changes with open arms, but one change does scare me a lot: work (or lack thereof). Sustaining my life has always been my top priority, especially after coming to Taiwan, and the possibility of losing my source of income is similar to the fear of being crippled. To tackle this issue, I decided to find the element that will likely stay constant even during this transition period. By identifying the key element, hopefully I can figure out how to survive the roaring storm.

I have worked for 15+ years in three professions (hardware engineer, technical support, technical writer), using three languages (Japanese, English, Chinese), inside companies from three countries (Japan, Israel, Taiwan). What is the one thing that always remained constant during all these years? I have looked hard into my memories and found this:

There is always one person you cannot stand.

It isn’t about the job description, resume, skills, or income. It is about the people I work with. My experience tells me that no matter where I go, I will eventually have a nemesis who was born with a mission (and matching talent) to sabotage my happiness in the workplace as my boss, my team member, or my V.I.P. client. Sounds depressing? Me too. But that’s not the end of the story. This oracle contains a second part, which says:

You have to deal with that person on a daily basis.

Well, he doesn’t quietly sit in the corner so I can duck my head and quietly walk by; he is standing right in front of me, every day, at the worst moment. I can please, confront, argue, or beg him—but I cannot ignore him. But again, you shouldn’t despair so fast—I have one more card up in my sleeve to save you from the blink of depression:

That person never changes for your liking.

Hallelujah! Isn’t it ironic that the one thing that never changes in our work is something we wish to be changing? I have tried countless times to change That Guy, or to change my behavior so that he can become a better person. Never, ever worked. The only way for me is to quit the job and switch to another workplace, hoping that I rid of That Guy for good. He won’t: just like Freddie Cruger with morphing capabilities, he shows up in another form sooner or later.

The lesson is clear: it is all about people. No matter how much change is inflicted upon us, we will continue working with other people. Learning how to deal with others, especially the ones we don’t want to deal with, holds the key. One of my favorite quotes from Buddhist teachings is whenever you walk into a room with 10 people, three of them like you, three hate you, and the rest don’t care what you do or who you are. I bet it was, is, and will be, true wherever I go or whatever I do.

That’s it: no conclusion, no tips, just a dull piece of truth I have learned from my experience. Hopefully I can find a way to deal with it, soon enough.