Aug 052018

Many years ago I worked with an extremely sharp, but rather odd, systems analyst. He was a very, very intelligent person, but he drove me utterly crazy.

On numerous occasions, he would sit, silently in a meeting, listening and thinking and then, usually about five minutes from the end, when a general consensus was just about to be reached, he would say ‘Here’s the thing….’.

Every single time he did this, he would throw the meeting into chaos, because his ‘thing’ was nearly always something that we had not considered, or had considered and assumed it was not important and he would weigh in with ‘the thing’, which would mean that we invariably needed to have another meeting to discuss ‘the thing’, which meant that we had just wasted an hour or more of our lives.

He was a brilliant analyst, but I just hated working with him. Most of the time his ‘thing’ would be a seriously edgy edge-case that had no consequence, but delivered the way it was, with gravitas, it nearly always meant that the meeting would fail and we would have to consider his point in the next one before we could be productive. 

I realised that his ‘the thing’, was the one thing I hated about him and it was the one thing that mean that I would never like him, would never want him on the team. I considered that he was toxic because of this one thing.

My relationship with this very, very smart analyst was never a good one. Which is a shame, because he was generally a nice guy and he was very, very smart.

In many relationships, there are often numerous things that can mean the difference between a happiness, contentment, loving warm relationship and one that is on the brink of a disaster.

In talking with a friend who is, as you have probably guessed already, on the brink of disaster, I suggested that the two of them sat down and tried to identify ‘the thing’.

To make it easier, I suggested that they create a list of things that bugged them and that had a detrimental effect on the relationship.

  • He picks his feet and flicks skin fragments onto the sofa
  • She undercooks the bacon
  • He watches the football while I clean the house
  • Socks, laundry Basket, enough said
  • Knickers hanging in the bathroom
  • She earns more than I do
  • He spends all of his money on motorbike parts

I then asked if changing this behaviour is possible, or if it is so utterly ingrained that there is no way to change it.

It came down to just two things that each side could not agree on.

  • Football / House Chores balance
  • Socks in the laundry basket not the floor.

So, here is the thing, if you can pin down ‘The Thing’ you can decide if this is an edge case and you no longer need to really worry about it, or if it is a deal-breaker, in which case you need to figure out how to get around ‘the thing’, or if you want to get around it.

Oh yeah, the couple ?

They employed a cleaner once a week and went to the bar to watch the  football match together a couple of times a month and he mostly puts his socks somewhere near the laundry basket nowadays….

So, here’s the thing, finding those things can be important, but there is usually only a small number of them that are deal-breakers…..

 Posted by at 2:00 am

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