It always amazes me in the nicest way to see someone come through a trough and again come back to be the positive person they once were. It’s as if the light that once shone brightly within, has returned as they are no longer confounded by fear, and are free to be happy, and most importantly, they’re free to be themselves.
To illustrate, there’s a guy I know, Andy, who seemingly went through one of these dark periods a year back. Catching up with him in the elevator at work one day he was all of a sudden a different person; antagonistic, negative about the company, and worse, negative about our people-it was uncharacteristic for him to be this way. I couldn’t understand it. Later on weeks later, I was in a meeting where the normal Andy attended but was not present. He snarled about a couple of things and you could feel the tension-there was an elephant in the room! I asked a couple of people who knew Andy well, what was wrong, and I discovered that he’d lost a parent. He was grieving. That explained everything.
Andy’s world had been tipped upside down, and emotions that never seemed to be an issue before rose to the surface at random, and took him unsuspectingly. What was I to do? Well, in this situation I did nothing apart from give him lots of what I call “grace space,” which is just being gentle and kind and not someone who would cause him even more grief. The majority of people I saw interact with Andy also treated him this way.
It also got me thinking about these times in my past. There was a time or two in my past where I was gripped with grief and swamped by depressed feelings; my demeanor was gaunt and I was not much fun to be around. The people I appreciated most didn’t say much. They just listened. I find it ironic that I’m not really a natural listener in this regard; I’d prefer to talk and encourage. It’s a reminder that at times, words often don’t cut it.
These days, Andy’s a different man-he’s not only got his own zest back, but he’s full of another level of enthusiasm that is simply infectious with others. He’s a workplace leader, very knowledgeable and one of the most courteous guys you would ever meet. He has such a high value of respect. It is great to see the miracle of Light work itself out in this guy.
When people are hard to get along with, it is difficult to understand or be able to help, but we can…
We need to encourage it and not set the person back by drawing attention to the way they behaved during the dark time; if we did do this we should expect them only to be “dark” with us-the person who remembers them that way. If we see the person slipping back into dark attitudes we need to be able to give them time and space (“grace space”) and tacit encouragement that the world is not that bad, in ways that ooze respect and build trust.
© Steve J. Wickham, 2008. All rights reserved Worldwide.