Today’s post is going to be a little bit of a rant. When I was a the Defense Language Institute with my good friends and co-posters, my favorite Russian instructor, Anna Jones, told us that English is the hardest language to learn because there are more exceptions than there are rules. I’m sure there is an opportunity for some philosophical debate about what is the hardest language to learn–Chinese speakers might argue with Mrs. Jones. Regardless, I consider the fact that one of the most popular languages in the world has more exceptions than rules speaks to the way we should approach problems. Rules don’t always apply the same to every problem and routine approaches can often lead to complications vice solutions. This is especially true when it comes to how we engage with other people.
I volunteered to take the job I’m currently holding which is trying to establish a Career Services Program for my agency. The biggest critique I heard before I came here and since I’ve arrived has been “Why can’t all the Career Services do everything the same way?” Everyone wants to feel like they are being treated the same way and with the same considerations as the person they work next to, carpool with or share a meal with in their neighborhood. The problem with that approach is that each person, each job and each program is different and the more differences you inject into the equation, the more complicated the process becomes. Even if we used the same process for each person and each job, the outcome would be different and potentially different in a negative way.
Our personal relationships are the same. I can’t treat my family members or friends exactly the same. In fact, oftentimes, I can’t even make the same statement to those closest to me in the same way. They all have different backgrounds, different experiences, different beliefs, different personalities, different emotional intelligence levels, different filters on what I’m saying, different connections to me…you get the point. Trying to put a template or a process on things is okay as long as we don’t turn it into a compliance mechanism that restricts our creativity, our personality or our feelings. One size almost never fits all and that’s what makes our lives so exciting.