I blame my mother. She named me "Heidi" after the charming Alpine maiden in Johanna Spyri's classic novel, not realizing the name means "battle maiden." And I've been living up to the moniker ever since. I tend to leave strong impressions -- and form even stronger ones.
I am also a pragmatist. The publishing industry is, first and foremost, about building relationships. Therefore, prudence dictated that I find a way to get along even with those people who do not naturally appeal to me.
Fortunately, I had a mentor in Bert Ghezzi, who has exceptional people skills; he taught me how to find the good even in the most challenging of personalities.
This was key to getting along with dislikeable people: finding something good to appreciate. Learn financial planning from the miser, self-discipline from the hardnosed, patience with the flaky, and discretion from the sneaky. It was also Bert who taught me that each personal strength has a less-desirable "flip side." Instead of resisting someone's bossiness, for example, I can appreciate her organizational skills. So often the characteristics we most dislike in others are qualities we struggle with ourselves.
Loving the Unlovable ... by Example
Thanks to Bert, I learned two failproof ways to get along with difficult people: pray for them, and show kindness to them. By praying for that person, the negative emotional energy lifts and is replaced with an extraordinary sense of peace. And by looking for ways to show kindness to him or her, the walls between us are broken down, brick by brick.
In his book, "The Heart of a Saint," author Bert Ghezzi quotes St. John Baptist de la Salle (d.1719), who said:
"Decide never to speak of the failings of others, nor to reprimand them, no matter how serious they seem to you. When you see someone fall into some fault, call to mind the gospel saying, 'You can see the splinter in your brother's eye, but you cannot see the beam in your own.' (see Matthew 7:3).
Throughout the rest of the book, Bert recounts with warm, tantalizing detail the stories of holy men and women who embodied these and other important ways to grow closer to God. From the community orientation of St. Angela Merici, to the evangelistic zeal of Pope John Paul II and the holy perseverance of St. Jane de Chantal, each of these holy heroes teach us another aspect of living the Christian life with security and confidence.