Yesterday I worked on a manuscript with a long-time colleague. We work together pretty well, although I stress her out from time to time (where time, t = often). We also have fun and laugh a lot as we work.
After we'd been working and talking for a while, my colleague said "You were right, I was being stupid" (in reference to a minor and temporary technical issue that we easily sorted out together). I said "I never said you were stupid". She thought about it for a moment and realized that I had not said she was stupid, and she said that this was really typical of her. If she's not feeling confident about a topic, she feels stupid. We've been working together for 10 years. Of course I don't think she is stupid. This woman has a Ph.D., a faculty position, and a severe case of low confidence.
Working with me might not help her with her confidence issues on a day-to-day basis, but overall we make a pretty good team. She has some expertise that I do not have, but she does not like to write (and I do). The papers we have written together have been important for both of our careers. So, despite our very different approaches to research and life, together we get things done -- not as quickly as I would like and not as low-stress as she would like.
Last year, I created a cartoon for our research group newsletter. The cartoon fairly accurately depicts this particular working relationship, including how annoying I am to work with and how my colleague effectively neutralizes my insane plans. For this blog, I replaced my photograph with my logo, and my colleague's photo with a symbolic element.
6 years ago