2010-03-23 - 8:07 a.m.
A friend who works in the Aviation industry and does alot of work in Germany, France and the UK made a comment that in Europe they are MUCH better at leaving work at work and developing actual FRIENDSHIPS with co-workers separate from work.
He said they can sit in a meeting a duke it out rather harshly in debate, and then as soon as done all shake hands and ask
They also always seem to have holiday!
Its so GREAT!
I felt like after eight years of being married to a tempestuous Italian, my social mores-- hmmm--- at times are in fact a bit more of the European style (at least at work!)
I KNOW I am more desensitized and alot rolls over me. I notice that the UK sales team personalities who are so very colorful and quirky and dramatic to our US counterparts and team, seem to not be as bothersome and rather amusing to me. I find them FUNNY and think some of their more dramatic e-mails are hilarious. They often make me laugh, and I think THAT IS PRECISELY their intent and use of dramatic humor. Most of my office things those UK folks just over the top and a but nuts. Perhaps its the fondness for all those British comedies that used to run on PBS that make me assume they are joking half the time in e-mails that others in my group seem to receive with such literal seriousness.
But for some reason the one thing that DOES get my ire is when I hear people complain about the SAME DAMN thing OVER AND OVER AGAIN and nothing changes!
Funny for me to say that as I KNOW I myself am guilty of making the same mistakes at times OVER AND OVER... and it frustrates me as much as everyone else! I HATE that I don't SEE that stupid error I made AGAIN AND AGAIN IN THE MOMENT of reading "Will be amended as follows..."
and then having someone later point out I while I listed the NEW language I ONCE AGAIN FORGOT TO NOTICE that "as follows" is NOT particular enough. It needs to say "will be deleted and replaced" OR " will be amended by adding the new language to the end thereof"
as an example of my own STUPID REPETETIVE MISTAKE THAT DRIVES Me and at least one (if not more!) attorneys nuts!
SO this is said with that backdrop of knowing my imperfection.
I lost my patience yesterday after seeing a correction come through our group distro for SOMEONE else who has a MISTAKE they KEEP REPEATING.
I guess what upset me was the PUBLIC calling out of it.
Maybe I overreacted, but on top of the fact that EVERY TIME this particular imperfect person makes this particular mistake I hear grumbling from the group- in a rather UNIVERSAL fashion, I kinda thought "MAYBE it time someone COMMUNICATES WITH HER TOO???"
I mean how can someone correct an error if they HAVE NO IDEA how irksome it is??
Obviously the GENERAL communication to the GROUP of what we are SUPPOSED to be doing is not sinking in. Now of course It WAS NOT MY PLACE TO BE THE ONE TO DO THAT COMMUNICATING- as of course it isn't my responsibility that she GETS it, and that my co-workers are happy and not discontented.
But it was making ME DISCONTENTED TO HEAR THIER DISCONTENT.
I Also reacted impulsively to the fact of the correction on the group distro--I guess in part as that made the topic PUBLIC so I felt free to weigh in and give her my support saying "OK WHEN IS PICKING ON YOU THIS YEAR going to end? ENOUGH ALREADY"
Cause that is how I FELT.
I feel like this person is DIFFICULT and DOES HAVE ERRORS and HAS SCREWED UP AT TIMES, but that for a YEAR now there is a heightened scrutiny of her.
Now she obviously is STILL in our group and we all still work together, so after a year- as that is not changing, I think it time to FORGIVE AND MOVE ON.
I didn't think the person being called out would then get riled to call our boss and address it with HER. I guess I thought she might actually:
2. Maybe also hear the rest of my communication which was a very frank " WHEN YOU DO THIS...X.... It makes a FEW people think ____ Y____ "
Now I WOULD NOT name names and when she asked who honestly complained of that.
I said (thinking it was diplomatic) "Its kinda like group think. I have no idea who it first irritated but is truly a behavior that I hear A FEW complain about as now it irritates them all!"
Which is TRUE
And I think FAIR to say that there is POWER in that GROUP THINK.
And yet I firmly believe it can be used for GOOD
As in finally getting the message to someone to CHANGE A BEHAVIOR
So when my boss asked in frustration "SO you think it will have helped to make our group more cohesive?"
I said " I don't know"
But to be honest! I THINK IT Will , as even IF IT WAS IMPULSIVE and not well thought out I DO think HOW THE HELL CAN SOMEONE CHANGE A BEHAVIOR IF THEY ARE NOT GETTING THE MESSAGE
And yet, I think the method of then sending the PARTICULAR message to a PARTICULAR PERSON by a group disco is not the best way as it then makes a personal performance issue public.
What I didn't think about was that in doing what I was doing I was criticizing MY BOSS!!
I think my boss ROCKS and as she said to me (which isn't my business) She gets frustrated when her marching orders are not being listened to. (Not my business how she handles that)
But MY ERROR was in not considering that my attempt at ending the nonsense of the constant complaint by being DIRECT wasn't my role.
But darn I am sick of hearing the one attorney talked about like she is the BLACK SHEEP or the REDHEADED STEPCHILD
as I know that when that is an accepted group culture then it can be YOU who is the next in line.
I just have intolerance for GROUP THINK attacks of any individual.
Me, or ANYONE ELSE.
I hope in the end this communication DOES HELP. I hope the attorney actually just voiced something to our Boss that NEEDED TO BE SAID as she was ALREADY FEELING IT.
But my boss said she heard of some grand conspiracy theory! WHICH OF COUSE IS RIDICULOUS. AS I told the attorney I IM ed " I don't think anyone has any ill will; but I think there is an unawareness that even the slightest negativity communicated about a person can become GROUP THINK."
Far cry from intentional ill will and TRYING to ruin a cohesiveness of our working group! But I do think it is unwittingly very destructive.
Now the women I work with ARE GREAT PEOPLE! I would be proud to call them friends! I thought it sad that simply my acceptance of this admittedly difficult attorney seemed to be enough of a reason for those who don't care for her to choose to think of me differently and not want to be friends. We had been work friends and had growing friendships and it did make me sad that was clearly cut off when I came to her defense. I didn't ever defend her DEFICIENCIES or HER ACTIONS- to be clear, She will be the first person I have no trouble telling what I think! But I have defended her as a VALUABLE TEAM PLAYER. I mean , she is still there trying to do what she thinks is right. Even if misguided I can't help but respect her as a person - albeit one who errs. And I DO LIKE HER. YES , and that is the part the others have trouble accepting.
CE LA VIE!
To me, to name the white elephant in the room and address it is ALWAYS better than avoidance, even though in that moment of growth it is UNCOMFORTABLE.
And I see this one attorney trying to address her concern about the white elephant in OTHER WAYS- -involving herself in training for the greater company. That's all well and good but until we actually hash it out in a discussion in our GROUP that ELEPHANT will still be in the room whether we choose to ignore it or not.
So I named it.
Just like a year ago in a quick moment NOT THOUGHT OUT I sent an IM to a wrong co-worker of a self help book about Controlling people. It was TOTAL screw up but that one mistake then in the end brought to light serious issues of control that needed to be dealt with. It was a weird moment which I think inadvertedly HELPED.
I wonder sometimes at those impulsive intuitive moments and though uncomfortable in the end somehow they can be (albeit strangely!) a blessing as they facilitate needed change.
THE issue of others in our group feeling controlled and by a domineering individual who was using unhealthy communication HAS BEEN DEALT WITH- -now lets MOVE ON and GET OVER IT.
And as my boss said :"We don't have to be friends but just respectful co-workers"
I do agree, but at the same time think that in a real healthy friendship (which some of my co-workers DO HAVE) one can STILL BE friends and co-workers EVEN when they disagree, and yes EVEN when someone's job performance might STINK At times! The measure of a good friend SHOULD NOT BE Their capability at their job which is often skill and intelligence based (ok along with work ethic), which to me are FAR less important than the CHARACTER, INTEGRITY, HONESTY and LOYALTY of a good friend.
Just cause we don't all see eye to eye on EVERY little thing, and even on some bigger issues, doesn't mean we have to go from actually having had developing friendships to what I see as a phony politeness and hiding of the REAL issues that are really there- whether we like them or not.
So the MORE I thought about it, the more I thought I don't think I really did add fuel to the fire of the one attorney by my communication. That's blaming the messenger for saying a message that we all know to be true ANYWAY (except HER and she was the only one who can actually change anything so SHE NEEDED TO KNOW.)
It is TRUE that there is strong anger and resentment and that we all need to work through that. It is TRUE that was deserved in a moment a year ago (OK to be more honest I am editing here and adding MORE THAN A FEW MOMENTS OVER THE past couple of years! But still... lets give her a chance! It is ALSO true that NO ONE is perfect and after a year from the last transgression, perhaps it is time to just move on and try to get along without such tension in our group. I guess I believe in the power of forgiveness.
It is also true that I think that attorney is a valuable one on our team who can be a positive person when SHE is feeling respected. The irony is that when she doesn't she then doesn't show respect of OTHERS but she is such a strong person that her disrespect REALLY IS WORSE than the subtly of other's. That is however her issue to fix. The issue for others is to set clear boundaries of what communication they will and will not accept.
I guess I don't accept "GROUP THINK" attacks of any one individual for any one undesired behavior- REGARDLESS of what that behavior is. I find this so important that I went out on a limb in my job as a supervisor in the past to teach my employees to NOT JUDGE others while at WORK EXCEPT based on actual JOB PERFORMANCE. That is a hard thing to do. To judge merit of a job done based on performance, and to judge the VALUE of a person as an individual are two very distinct things and I think that perhaps this is where those in Europe have less trouble making those clear distinctions. Here perhaps we have such trouble navigating friendships that develop in a workplace because we find it so hard to NOT BLURR those lines. I really think there is something to be said for accountability, but when it can be achieved with respectful communication one on one that is my preference.
I mean even when I was mistreated in my life, I was CAREFUL not to allow a group think witch hunt to ensue. And it would have been SO EASY to fall prey to that response! It is not hard to have a group rally around a NEGATIVE CAUSE. WHY is is TO MUCH HARDER AT TIMES TO RALLY ACTION FOR A POSITIVE CHANGE?
Why it is easier to get folks to join in at the proverbial water cooler over hashing it out complaining about someone rather than focusing on the positive?
So where I GET TEMPESTUOUS and ANGRY and IRRITABLE MYSELF is when there is too much negativity and it is the norm.
Cause in my book both the same- the human behavior of someone screwing up, and the human behavior of them focusing and bitching about it ever time. Both make it uncomfortable as a third party witnessing to sit quietly by and say NOTHING.
The thing I like about the attorney I sent the IM to (which she then went to my Boss to discuss as she was upset- not with ME but with the fact that the whole group has been irritated with her and she took it to be some "conspiracy" I said I wouldn't go THAT FAR and no one MEANS ILL, but there is still obviously some resentment and issues not resolved and a fixation on negativity toward her. THAT IS TRUE And I THINK TIME TO ADDRESS IT AND MOVE ON!)
The thing I LIKE about that attorney is I can tell her what I think and she actually LISTENS and responds and she has APOLOGIZED to me when she was mistaken or wrong about something. She can dish out really HONEST CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OF ME, but then she equally is gracious and lets me know she apprechiates my hard work and a job well done!
Perhaps as she KNOWS that I REALLY DO RESPECT her despite her limitations. I am not out to ATTACK and destroy but work together. I have that same attitude with ALL My co-workers.
So we'll see how this plays out.
I didn't mean to upset her anymoreso than I thought she was ALREADY upset at being called out in a group distro and having her hand slapped. I figured SHE WAS UPSET.
I really tried to just give EMPATHY, and then also honest communication so the problem CAN be heard by her and fixed- cause I AM sick of the others getting so frustrated by that behavior of hers. Its a twofold thing-- as I told her in the IM, If she has been doing things THE SAME WAY for YEARS she might not have been that aware her methodology needs to be tweaked a bit as it is not working with some of the changes of the past years. I did tell her that. I did say that perhaps there is something she could do different to address the concern of my co-workers to resolve the problem, but that she needs to KNOW it is a problem or it will NEVER change.
We shall see if my attempt to help is in the end beneficial or not.
Regardless, it was a BIG Foot in mouth moment.
I have done SO WELL LATELY !
OH well. If once a year I screw it up that's not TOO BAD?
If in the end my imperfection helps address needed issues, maybe it is actually OK!
But even if not, this too shall pass.
I have learned first and foremost to be forgiving of myself.
I have to be.
If nothing else, at least I can forgive and move on.
* with the occassional 5 min vent here and there as I had yesterday after an e-mail prompting writing to the LCPS school board about our proposed budget cuts!
Hey the best quote of this AM came from a TEACHER who is ALSO A MOM of a child in FUTURA who I ran into.