Will's World: Reconciliations That Last a Lifetime
Manley, Will, American Libraries
Due to American Libraries' publication schedule, I wrote this column at the turn of the new year. I'm like everyone else: When a new year rolls around, my thoughts turn instinctively to the topic of resolutions--a time-honored American tradition to reinvent ourselves or at least start off with a clean slate.
Over the years I have been committed to making resolutions, the more ambitious the better. Most of them can be categorized into three groups: 1) eliminating bad habits, 2) initiating good habits, and 3) losing weight. As faithful as I am at making resolutions, that's how good I am at abandoning them as soon as they become tiresome or inconvenient. By the time this column appears, I won't be able to remember what it was I resolved to do or not do. Studies have shown that most New Year's resolutions are abandoned and forgotten by January 21. It doesn't take long for our iron will to turn to jelly. In my old age, I've grown skeptical of New Year's resolutions and that's why this year I decided to make reconciliations rather than resolutions.
Reconciliations have big advantages over resolutions. They make life easier, not harder. Over the course of a year our personal relationships can get tangled up in negative feelings of anger, jealousy, bitterness, dislike, annoyance, and hatred. This is especially true in our libraries, where we spend well over 2,000 hours each year at work. Studies have shown that many of us actually spend more waking hours at work in our libraries than at home. Under the heading of "stuff happens," our work relationships can sometimes get mired in negativity. Most of the time the seed of the negativity is unintentional. Maybe a coworker hurt our feelings with a thoughtless word or an insensitive gesture. Hurt feelings often evolve into bitterness, which can develop into unfriendliness, which can crescendo into a hardened grudge, which can coalesce into hatred. It's a counterproductive and unhealthy continuum of negativity.
Taking a fresh approach
What better way to start a clean slate each year than to seek out a coworker, supervisor, or patron with whom you are having problems and tell them you would like to start over? …