Dealing with jerks
Living in a bubble
Hi! I'm Amos, I was born in 1990 in a family who believed protecting me from the world was the best way to prepare me for it. Sensitive images were torn off magazines, we were closely monitored, family secrets were kept from us.
Enter high school. Introverts with high grades make good candidates for bullies to prey on. I had my fair share of nagging and name-calling throughout the years. Nothing much to complain about, just your regular scholar abuse.
Was it enjoyable? Evidently not. It crushed my spirits more often than not. At times I was so terrified that I ran for my life at the end of class so the bullies would not get me. And then proceeded to years of nightmare about being chased.
Living in a bubble had done me terrible damage. My capacity to absorb and endure abuse never even had a chance to develop until I was twelve.
On the desirable
Bullies are people who enjoy hurting others. Trolls are people who get off on stirring flamewars inside a community. Jerks are (in this context) brutally honest people who tend to lack empathy towards your hurt feelings.
I too, wish that there were no bullies, trolls, nor jerks. I don't like when people who grossly misunderstand my ideas allow themselves to take a royal piss on the byproduct of my hard work. It just doesn't feel good.
The bad news is that such is life: the world is full of jerks, bullies, and trolls. And, especially if you are going to launch a start-up into orbit, or any other activity that requires dedications for years and generally pouring your life into it, you are going to have to deal with them.
Your investors will be jerks. Some of your clients will be bullies. Your competitors will be trolls. Your significant other of several years might leave you because they can't accomodate your new lifestyle. Your family might harass you with discouraging stances on how you are never going to succeed.
Pragmatic vs right
The 'right' approach here, would probably be to try and repress jerks, bullies and trolls. Or at least, try to educate them so that they know better. However, I will go ahead and claim that all of this is lost time that you will never regain.
The 'right' approach involves trying to change everyone around you so that they will bother you less. The 'pragmatic' approach involves changing yourself so that you will be impervious to external agressions, and able to achieve your goals no matter what the people around you think about you or your craft. Which do you think will be the most successful?
Successful people make compromises. Successful people don't mind looking like asses, and committing huge mistakes, because they know it is the most effective way to learn a lesson. They will happily look stupid if appeasing a team member is necessary for the short-term operation of their business.
Some very useful people are jerks on a regular basis, not because they mean evil, but because they have a busy schedule and have to find clear-cut, efficient ways of communicating (also known as: cutting the bullshit). Do not give up on those people, they are useful too.
To close this late night post, let me try to come up with a succesful strategy for dealing with all kinds of people: if the exchange is unpleasant, ie. if you're being criticized, ask yourself "What am I getting out of this?" Be selfish. Decide whether the person in front of you is worth your time. Don't be too quick though: even people completely off the mark can drop nuggets of generally applicable advice.
However, if you're having a good time, cherish it. Finding like-minded people is a life challenge. When you do stumble upon people who you can share a good moment with, take a deep breath, look around you, let your heartbeat cool, enjoy life. These people are your support net. They won't come from where you expect them, but they are essential to your survival.
I have found that the only way to live life fully is to know how to balance between poison and nectar, between demons and angels, between sleepless nights and sunset snuggles.