Today was a ‘try not to cry’ day at work. Or to be more specific, a ‘try not to cry during lunch’ day. It’s only the moments when no-one is looking that I have trouble keeping the façade up (like how its only when you take time off work that your body lets you get sick).
My undoing? I can handle a lot of the shit that’s thrown at me, but we all have our Achilles heel that makes us vulnerable. It’s the point they hit when they say or do something that preys on our deepest insecurities.
So a little bit about me. Like anyone, I have strengths and weaknesses, but those “strengths” that I most take pride in are not appreciated by all. For example, I’m a very straight up and down no-bullshit bluntly honest type of person. My friends and many people I work with like that quality in me. Others do not.
- No games, no lies, no politics or gossip.
- I give people the benefit of the doubt, don’t hold grudges, and reserve my judgement till I have all the facts
- When there is a problem I try to find solutions and provide “constructive” feedback.
- I am considerate of others, appreciative of their hard work, and try to help others out.
- I am fair in my dealings with people.
- I am at times ‘blunt.’ I will call a spade a spade, speak my mind, and generally stand up for what I believe in.
- Politics and mind games confuse and bewilder me, and inevitably I end up saying and doing the thing that puts me in the shit.
- Some people at my current work find my honesty “rude.”
Which brings me to today’s issue.
I’ve been working with a contractor who has failed to address my feedback on an e-newsletter design. I have had to reiterate my feedback numerous times because rather than him making the changes required he has made piss-poor excuses of why he isn’t going to (him trying to argue that it isn’t a problem, when it clearly is to me and my team).
To make matters more complicated he was hired by my nemesis Murray (Business Analyst), has realised we are at odds with one another, and that Murray has political favour in my workplace so he can basically get away with ignoring what I say.
My last lot of feedback was fair, honest, firm, thanking him for the positive changes he has made, clarifying where he has misunderstood, and calling him on the items he has not changed despite my previous requests.
He wrote back an email (cceed Murray and my other colleagues) calling me rude, saying he refuses to work with me anymore, and once again indicating he will not make the changes requested (this time his excuses include lies, saying that I agreed with him previously on something I most certainly did not).
What I have learned the hard way in the public sector (yet still not learned how to pre-empt), is that the first person who complains is the one who is believed. Like kids know that the one who runs off to the adult to “tell on” the other is the one who gets the upper hand.
Automatically I get pulled into account for my “rude” email. This isn’t just a little bit of small talk, it’s an official warning made with a witness present, and its clear that his word is enough for them. Talk about calling the kettle black: HIS emails are far ruder than mine, he is the one who has not met the brief, who continues to fail to address the feedback given to him, and has been hired to do this work.
I reread over the email I sent him, and it is to me clearly nothing more than a fair and clear statement of fact and feedback – and his response is an unprofessional emotional rant – yet like all things it depends on how you spin it. You could take any email and skew the meaning (is that smiley face friendly or sarcastic?).
Going through my head are two different thoughts:
1) If you provide clear constructive feedback to someone who is doing a half-arsed job, the easiest and most popular response is to point the finger at you and call you “rude” and “unprofessional” so you get in trouble and they don’t have to do the work properly.
(I’ve never experienced this kind of behaviour until this job, and now this is the third time this has happened to to me in the past four months! And I can’t fight the system).
2) Maybe they are right and I am abominably rude. That’s the Achilles heel.
Either way, I spent my lunch break sniffing back tears.
- Stop It! Things You Do to Destroy Trust in the Workplace (amandafnewfield.com)