We all have dealt with difficult people. Early in my training I encountered a doctor who triggered a tremendous amount of stress in me. I found him arrogant and smug. He also had a condescending and patronizing manner that I found offensive. It was bad enough that I had to periodically encounter him in my training rotations, but when I was assigned to his service for two months, I couldn’t imagine how I’d get through the ordeal.
As we started working together, I found him less irritating than I’d expected. Then something amazing happened. He requested my assistance on a case. During our collaboration, I found myself warming up to him. He responded in kind.
As I got to know him I enjoyed him more and more — he wasn’t smug at all. In fact, he was extremely shy and soft-spoken and what I had taken to be arrogance was a combination of shyness and the way he compensated for his social unease. His behaviour and mannerisms didn’t change, but my view of them did.