While working this past week without our excellent graphic designer (she went on vacation to Hawaii…lucky), I decided to brighten up some people’s day by posting a funny picture of myself on Facebook. A former graphic designer at the paper superimposed my face on a famous painter (you may know the guy, he enjoys painting “happy trees” and has very unique hair). What I noticed when I did this was several people, most that don’t respond to my posts, give it a like, laugh at it or comment. This made me happy as I believe that everyone needs a little pick-me-up as you near the end of the week.

I really try not to take myself too seriously. I have always thought of myself as a kid stuck in a grownup’s body and I am willing to make myself look goofy on purpose. This is why if you stroll through The Daily Journal in the evening you might hear me belt out Elton John, Fall Out Boy, Styx, Eric Church or any other assortment of music. It’s my way of keeping things light in a stressful environment.

But while I attempt to try to make my workplace, home or overall environment less tense, I have noticed that there are several people that I have known that have become, for lack of a better term, two-faced. This struck me recently on a social media app as a friend of mine was criticized by a person in their 60s. When letting our group know that he will be unable to attend one of the three events that are scheduled in the upcoming month, he was harshly taken to task for missing a third of the events. I found this interesting since several other members of the group had made known that they were unable to attend one of the events as well.

What did this person have against my friend? Why were the others not questioned as well? I really was at a loss for words.

My friend and I spoke about it recently and he just said the person had “sour grapes.” To me, it isn’t hard to see that this person, although 40 years my friend’s senior, just hasn’t really grown up. The person will be leaving our group later this year and it seems that bitterness has set in.

Lately, there has been someone else that has given off a negative vibe. In another group I am in, this person has been really pushing while the leader has been gone. I know that sometimes people have a bad week, but to act like the defacto leader has pushed the wrong buttons in our collective. What does this person have to gain?

I realize that it is hard to find “good” people. I am not talking about the ones that put their career first or a project ahead of everything else in pursuit of completion. I am talking about those that actually are genuinely nice to those around them. Most of us can put the pedal to the metal without having to act like a jerk.

I went searching the internet to find articles on why people tend to act like jerks, but what I kept finding was the idea of the nice-guys-finish-last mentality. The Atlantic wrote an article in 2015 that seems to be stating that people find the more obnoxious you are the more powerful you seem. Is that what we really want in society?

I don’t disagree that people need assertiveness to get along in life. You need to be able to make a case for yourself, for others or for a cause. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without a bit of assertiveness. The one thing that I really never felt like I have done is trample on someone in order to get what I want. That may have been a bad thing on my part, but I leave at the end of the day with a clear conscience.

When looking at hiring a new employee or playing a certain player in football, I appreciate assertiveness. The one thing that I can’t stand is throwing someone under the bus in order to make yourself look better. I have had a few employees and players that have fallen into this category. It has helped me in my search of “better” people.

So, making our way back to my first story. I believe that my friend has been nothing but loyal to our group and has stepped up when others wouldn’t. He, himself, is a good person and stays humble despite his many personal accomplishments.

As a society, we really need to look at a person’s character. We need to understand that “good” people can still be hardworking, committed people. Life is easier when you surround yourself with “good” people.

Zach Stich is the managing editor of The Fergus Falls Daily Journal. His column appears Friday.

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