Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Last week I was stuck in an elevator for three hours with my political nemesis
from work. I’ll spare you the techno details, but it took far longer to rescue us
than the emergency worker had estimated. First we sat in grumpy silence, after
exchanging some innocuous expressions of unhappiness. Then we retreated to
our cell phones and paperwork. Ironically while overhearing each other talking
we learned we had both been called to the same inter-departmental meeting the
next day. Once we realized that, we decided to brainstorm answers. After we
finally got past our reflexive dislike we realized our positions were not so far
apart, and we developed a five-step plan we brought into the meeting the next
day. A variation of it got approved, but the people whom I have thought of as my
friends in the department are now acting a little pissy towards me. They’re
treating me like a politician who switched parties, while I think they should be
proud that I helped solve a problem and diffuse tension. How can I educate


Dear Compromiser:

I want to send you to Washington DC to start a politician re-education program!
We could have you as the mediator between pairs of opposing lawmakers that
we lock in rooms together until they can create a five-step program to resolve
literally anything. They would have to talk until they could agree on a topic and
then until they could agree on a plan.

As for your locals, tell them that you’ve realized that assuming there is no political
middle ground between people who don’t like one another is what’s gotten
America into our current mess and that you have decided to start breaking new
ground. Say you&'re happy to lunch with each of them, or all at once, to explain
how you think your department and the company can become more efficient and
a better place to work. And if they persist in being pissy at you and stuck in old
thinking, ask what benefit they get from keeping a closed mind. Make them chew
on that and keep up the good work.