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Learn to pick your battles wisely

February 3rd, 2011

We live in a complex world where we interact with people in a multitude of ways. We text, we tweet, leave wall posts, send e-mails, write on whiteboards and make phone calls. Sometimes we even talk to people in person. The plethora of ways to communicate means that things such as tone (i.e. humor and sarcasm) and meaning can be lost in translation.

When misinterpreted, the things other people say can be taken as  offensive. Normally, when a person feels offended, they respond to the situation. But what happens if said person is mistaken about the supposedly “offensive content” of what another person said?

That’s when the fun begins.

There are three types of battles: ones you should engage in because you’re in the right, ones you shouldn’t engage in because you’re in the wrong, and ones you’re a coward if you don’t engage in because the issue is just that important.

Would it make sense for me to get upset that the Corbo Room attendant didn’t accept my column picture as my ID when I forgot my student ID? Not really. I could have argued about it with her, but, while it would have fed my ego, it probably wouldn’t have gotten me any closer to the bigger biceps I was there for. So instead I just filled out the visitor’s form and went on with my workout. It wasn’t worth the fight (but it was a hilarious idea).

I’m sure everybody gets spam e-mails from time to time, and I’m no exception. Usually the spam is automated and has an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the e-mail. Other spam comes from people who send you their essays because they think, for whatever reason, that you and your readers care what they have to say. The proper response to this is the “manual unsubscribe”  where you send a response e-mail simply asking to be removed from their address book.

If you’re dealing with a reasonable person that should solve the problem. In some cases you’ll be dealing with someone who just doesn’t “get it” and wants to start an inbox war. This is a type of battle where, even though you’re in the right, the other side’s refusal to give up just isn’t worth the effort.

If you’re involved in any organizations, on campus or off, then you understand how hierarchy, chain of command and time management are essential to the success of that organization.

In certain cases it’s necessary to flex your chief muscles (the ones you strengthened in Corbo earlier) and discipline people for being irresponsible with their time. You always pick that battle.

Other battles can involve things like legislation. People might find it necessary to vote to change a set of bylaws in order to accommodate for what they see as inevitable future circumstances. However, some people lack in foresight. Much like those who didn’t think Ron Artest could step up and win a game, they were proven wrong.

That’s the kind of battle I live for.

There are a lot of things I’ve accomplished that if you had told people two years ago I’d do they’d recommend you to an insane asylum. I attribute that to putting in the hours necessary to make those accomplishments a reality. There’s no substitute for experience and the knowledge and respect that comes with it. Fight that battle, but only if you’re crazy enough to win it.