Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

I’d like to be able to like everyone, but my manager at work acts like she hates me and is rude to me, and I have to say she isn’t my favorite person. As a Christian, how should I act toward such people?

New Era

It would be pleasant to work for someone who appreciates you and your efforts, someone who is kind and caring. But in this imperfect world, people have their own problems and personalities that may clash with ours.

First, to improve the situation at work, you need to think out ahead of time how you will act and react. The scriptures give us a pattern for behavior that we call the Golden Rule—do unto others as you would have them do unto you (see Matt. 7:12). Would Christ return rudeness for rudeness? Would he use angry words when spoken to angrily? If you were the manager, how would you want your employees to treat you?

Bogged Down in Anger

But, you may say, I didn’t do anything to deserve being treated rudely; I was not the one at fault. If you continue to worry about who is at fault and who is treating you unfairly, you will become bogged down in bad feelings and anger that will hurt you much more than any person can. Your manager deserves to be treated respectfully by you simply because of her position. You have an obligation to do things her way just because she is in charge, providing she doesn’t ask you to do anything unlawful or that violates your personal beliefs of right and wrong.

It helps to look at a situation from the other person’s point of view. Your manager may not know how to be a good boss. She may be insecure in her responsibility and think that the only way to change the way people are doing their jobs is with anger and rudeness.

Now, you really cannot change how she does her job, but you can change how you do yours. Make sure that you are an excellent employee. Find out what your responsibilities are and do them well. Be on time. Don’t complain to your fellow workers. Be pleasant and polite. And willingly offer to go the extra mile occasionally. If you are lucky, your boss will notice your efforts and change her attitude towards you. But even if the situation at work never changes, you will have the comfort of knowing that you have done all you should have. You will have learned how to be a good employee.

Love Your Enemies

It does hurt your feelings to have someone treat you rudely, and you may fantasize about storming up to your manager and bawling her out just before you quit. Don’t do it. First of all, that is not how a Christ-like person would act. And secondly, it will hurt you and your employment record. Even if you must change jobs, always leave with good feelings between you and your employers. Your reputation as a good, conscientious employee will follow you if you try to maintain good relations with your employers.

None of this is easy. Jesus Christ, while he was on earth, told us how we should act towards people who do not like us. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Follow Christ’s example. Pray about your situation and ask the Lord to help you learn to appreciate your manager and to be kind and considerate even when that kindness is not returned. Then follow up your prayer with action. Even if it is nothing more than greeting your manager with a polite hello and a smile, continue trying every day.

Even though you may not always be able to do things like you wish to do them, you can always be the kind of person you want to be—a follower of Christ.

Readers

Try talking with your manager. If she doesn’t want to listen, consider getting another job. Be an example to her by not being rude in return. Try to like her for what she is and respect her for that.

Wendy Johnstone, 15 Sandy, Utah

I would try to be polite and nice to her. It will be hard, but if you always have a prayer in your heart for her, you’ll feel it’s the right thing and be happy for what you have done.

Anette Moller, 14 Herning, Denmark

I worked for a manager who I felt was rude and who hated me also. I, too, wanted to be Christian and have love for everyone, but there are some people that no matter what you do, they will still try to knock you down. In my case, I tried and tried to be as nice as possible. I did everything my manager asked and more, but she never was any nicer to me. Finally, I realized that it was impossible to make her happy, so I quit. Now that I am away from her, I am able to forgive her and genuinely feel sorry for her.

James Yoder, 20 Belleville, Illinois

Be calm and pray to your Heavenly Father to guide you and bless you with patience. As you love others, you are a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Elder J. Louis New Delhi, India

I had a similar problem at school where one certain girl seemed to really hate me. Finally, through prayerful study of the scriptures, I decided I would show some act of kindness to her every day, no matter how much I hated the thought of being nice to someone so undeserving. I prayed daily that the Lord would help me see this girl as a child of God and help me love her as He loves her. My goal was to smile at her every time I saw her. It sure was hard. Even though sometimes my smile was very slight, I kept my promise. Whenever she made a rude or unkind comment, I thought to myself, She is a child of God. By the semester’s end, I felt as if my smiles were sincere. I even found myself standing up for her when others had mean things to say about her. This year we are even friends. I think this same approach might work for you.

Jennifer Dobberfuhl, 16 Barron, Wisconsin

Take some time and sit with your manager and ask her what she expects from you as a worker.

Molly Mendez, 17 Plymouth, Indiana

It may be that she is having a hard time coping with life right now. Everyone progresses at their own pace. Let people be themselves. They may come around and thank you for your kindness. Just because they are mean to you, you don’t have to stoop down to their level in return. Be a friend no matter how they treat you, and it will all turn out to be a blessing that you will really learn from.

Liz Hussey, 17 Salt Lake City, Utah

Ask your Heavenly Father to bless you with patience and love. Also, pray that your manager’s heart can be softened. It’s not always easy to love people, especially when they’re unfriendly or rude. But we can do it with God’s help.

Michael Martin, 22 Johnstown, Colorado

To gain love, you first must give love. Our Savior gave so much love to those who despised him. You can remember what he went through and pray for patience and love. But you’ve got to do your part also. “Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).

Whitney Dalton, 17 Agoura, California

I was under the same working conditions as you are. The person I worked for was not a member of the Church and would lose his temper very easily. Many of the things he did and said conflicted with what I was brought up to believe. We didn’t get along very well, and my image of him was very hateful.

The Lord has taught us to look upon the heart and not the outward appearance (1 Sam. 16:7). As I began to look at the good things he did, I was able to get along with him better. He later joined the Church. We should always treat people with respect because we never know the influence we will have on them.

Elder Drew Patterson, 19 Australia Brisbane Mission

As you interact with people, treat them kindly and with respect. Try to help them in any way you can. Don’t wait until they ask you. Offer to help. As time goes by, even if they don’t treat you kindly, you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you did what was right.

Michelle Sorensen, 15 Houston, Texas

I think the best way to approach someone with an attitude like that is to stick to your beliefs. Don’t let their jealousy and persecution bring you down to their level. The thing to do is love them and feel sorry for them, for they’ll be the ones in the long run to hurt the most.

Gina Litchfield, 20 London, England

Peter asked the Lord how many times we should forgive. In response, the Lord told him (and you) to forgive (your manager) seventy times seven (see Matt. 18:21–22).

Elder Jackson E. Otikor, 20 Nigeria Aba Mission

[photo] Photography by Jed Clark