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Guest Anonymous Post Because I’m Awesome Like That

7

February 8, 2011 by Marj Hatzell

I have a friend who really, really, REALLY needed to vent and so she asked me if I’d post this here for her to, you know, get it out there so she can vent and stuff. Now, I totally didn’t write this. Really, I didn’t. So, if you think you know who it is, please do me a favor? DO NOT SPEAK OF IT! First rule of Blog Club is you DO NOT TALK ABOUT BLOG CLUB. Also? Tyler Durden is a dweeb. Ahem. Anyways, without further ado:  Guest Post.  And be sure to give her hugs in the comments, she needs ’em, yo.

THIS IS A TEST

My new boss is challenging.  And since my job knows I blog (and my boss is local, and we likely have acquaintances in common), the wonderful Domestic Goddess is letting me vent my spleen anonymously here.  (Thank you, dear DG!)  I don’t know how much of my reaction is truly due to the current situation and how much is due to Traumas of Crazy Bosses Past.  I can’t get any perspective.

In an incredibly fast-paced, stressful work environment, my boss delights in playing “gotcha” when something gets missed or an error is made.  Now, I have plenty to learn (still, after 10 months here) about this job, and I’m human and therefore make mistakes.  Shiz happens.  I’m completely willing to own my mistakes and limitations.  But (and this is an important but), ANYONE doing the job I’m trying to do under the conditions I’m doing it is going to miss things, make mistakes, and fail to mind-read the boss exactly.  Which lead to yesterday morning.

A surprise issue came up on Friday that I immediately brought to my boss’s attention.  When I suggested a proactive plan of action, she essentially told me to stick a pin in it and move on, but that another staff member might be able to shed some light.  I reached out to the other staff member, and he was able to clarify 3 out of 4 points of the surprise.  So Monday morning I reported this back to my boss and suggested a proactive approach for point #4.  And I got snapped at: “We talked about this on Friday; I don’t want you spending time on it.”

I left her office feeling like an idiot.  What had I missed?  Did I really either not remember or misinterpret some vaguely worded instruction?  As has happened many, many times in the last few months, I began to internalize the criticism and the familiar voices of self-doubt began to whisper.   I’ve written before about what a trigger it is for me to feel misunderstood or misinterpreted, and being scolded for something that may not have been my fault hooks right into those insecurities.

I stewed for ten minutes or so, and then decided to confront the situation.  She’s not a bad person, my boss, just moody as hell.  She is also under an unspeakable amount of job stress herself – take my situation and double it, easily.   There are days that we have a very convivial working relationship.  When I had a little breakdown in her office a few weeks ago (in reaction to non-work stresses), she was very supportive and sweet, and I know that in professional situations she appreciates a straight-forward approach.

So I stuck my head in her office and asked if she had a minute.  I explained that yes, we talked about this situation on Friday, but it wasn’t clear to me that her position was that it wasn’t worth my spending my time; that she had conveyed not wanting me to actively pursue it, but not her reasons.  I said that I felt as though I just got scolded for not knowing something that … I didn’t know because it hadn’t been explained.  My cool was beginning to waiver juuuuuuuust a touch, so I concluded by simply saying, I find this a difficult situation.

Her immediate reaction was to defend her non-proactive position in this circumstance, which wasn’t really my point.  But I let her talk for several minutes about how with so many major issues to address, I shouldn’t be wasting my time on this side issue.  That in a perfect world, being proactive would be fine, but that we don’t have that luxury right now.  I agreed with her 100% and told her that the problem I was having was with the communication style, not the substance.

I didn’t get anything like an apology, though she did say at one point that her intention was not to scold, but to “teach” – to adjust my thinking and priorities into alignment with hers, essentially.  I responded that I’m well aware that often the way she conveys information to me is intended to mold my thinking, but that sometimes it’s not entirely clear what she’s after.   The conversation petered out from there, and I expected that the rest of the day would be tense and anxious.

Instead, my anxiety seemed to lift somewhat and I found myself achieving a very-welcome (albeit minor) sense of detachment.  My self-esteemed lifted a notch or two.  And I actually got some productive work done, which is oftentimes a challenge.  In addition, my boss seemed to go out of her way to bestow some friendly conversation my way, as if extending a small olive branch.

I know I’m not out of the woods.  I had anxiety dreams about work last night and woke up before the alarm with a mental to-do list playing in my head.  The emotions around this situation feel a little like bullying to me, and I don’t know whether to trust that reaction.  I’ve worked in some truly abusive situations, early in my career when I didn’t know any better or how to stand up for myself, and there are some similarities.  But I also value the opportunity I’ve been given, which is to raise my personal bar significantly and grow professionally in ways that I haven’t had in a long time.  Plus, y’know, I need to work.

What do you all think of the situation?  I need to find a way to detach from the crap that really doesn’t have to do with me, but I know I’ll continue to find that difficult.   What would you do in my place?

7 thoughts on “Guest Anonymous Post Because I’m Awesome Like That

  1. MemeGRL says:

    Yah. Someone I know (not you, if I do know you) is going through something similar. Friend is doing same job as ever, but has a new boss, who thinks this is spending time on All the Wrong Things. New boss has no perspective on why these solutions were put in place in this work environment–because it solved those problems and so they no longer exist. But–if structures are removed–problems will probably return. And then they will be my friend’s problem also.
    So this isn’t very comforting, of course, but to say: many places operate like this. That doesn’t make them good places to work, but it doesn’t make you a bad worker either. And, if your boss was giving olive branch signals, take the “it’s meant to mold you to my way of thinking” as actual truth. But the “gotcha” game–is grownup bullying. Great opportunities are beautiful things, but they are best for leaping you to the next, better situation.
    Good luck. Hang in there. And–it’s not you, it’s her.

  2. M.M.Mama says:

    I TOTALLY know where you are coming from. I have a female co-worked that is just like this. She is so quick to point out small errors that I have missed. I totally don’t mind someone letting me know that I have made a mistake, especially if I didn’t even realize it, but she always make some snarky comment along with it. What are we in high school? It seems to come in waves with her also. We work in a small office and she makes it very clear that she is all business, no personal anything. We don’t even know where she goes on vacation. She’s weird. Anyway…one day it all came to a head and I called her out on her behavior. It wasn’t pretty to say the least, it escalated, I called her a “high school mean girl” and a bully. She got really defensive, we yelled at each other and then I just ended the “conversation” by leaving her office. Well things were a little tense for a day or two, but I think we really needed to have it out, I really do. She needed to know that she couldn’t push me around. I don’t really think this probably helped you, but at least you know someone else out there feels for you.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by angelica, The Domestic Goddess. The Domestic Goddess said: Guest Anonymous Post Because I'm Awesome Like That http://wp.me/p4lSb-EO […]

  4. D says:

    I have a coworker.. She’s basically the second most important person in the office.. Well maybe even first, because sometimes she seems to even trump my boss.. and she is moody, and difficult to deal with… and don’t get me started on her ‘communication’ style..
    I think you did the right thing, by confronting the situation and getting clarification. People like her don’t apologize.. but maybe she’ll think about what you said, and work at improving her communication so that her instructions are better understood.
    Wishing you the best! 🙂

  5. Kristy says:

    Sounds to me like she has trouble communicating clearly and gets snappish when stressed. Hard as it is, I think you have to be ready for similar situations to come up again and (this is the tough part) let it go. I’m not the thickest-skinned person, either – but I’ve had bosses and/or coworkers in the past that forced me to let some things just roll off.

    ((hugs))

  6. kathy says:

    I agree with Kristy. Actually, I think you should consider yourself lucky that you can actually approach her and air your grievances. I have had several women bosses who were absolute terrors, so much so that I’m still sometimes nervous about approaching my boss, who is perfectly fine and reasonable.

    Do your job the best you can, communicate with your boss frequently, and let the rest go. It’s not worth your energy obsessing over it. Good luck!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you all for the feedback. Unfortunately, this week has gone from bad to worse. I’m going to try to get some distance on the situation this weekend and hope to start the new week with a fresh attitude. I appreciate all of the words of encouragement!

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