I’m having some unnatural-to-me interpersonal struggles here. Let me tell you why…
But first… I must digress…
When I was younger, I used to come home from school and occasionally complain to my mom about various kids in my class who were annoying to me. I used to get so frustrated at all the annoying little personality quirks, weird things they did, strange things they said, etc.
My mom would tell me that I just needed to learn to deal with it. Because one day… I’d be in the real world, and I’d have to interact with all kinds of people in all kinds of places. And sometimes… that would be people who I didn’t like, or found annoying, or whatever-your-evil-might-be.
She’d tell me.
But as I grew up, I found that I generally and genuinely liked most people. And even the ones I didn’t… I still seemed to find ways to deal with it and make things work without much to-do.
And as I got older… I learned that I actually really liked people in general. And I could appreciate their differences, their quirks, and their perspectives.
I found that most people seemed to like me, too.
No, this isn’t a boo-hoo post about someone not liking me. I by no means want or need or expect to be liked by everyone.
This is about communication. And reality. And my struggle with how to deal with poor, poor, poor, really bad, terrible, awful, very awful, communication. And someone who seems to live in their own piece of reality. And… what I can only guess to be some kind of a personality clash as well.
A Few Introspective Thoughts About Me:
I’m a talker. I’m a writer. I’m good at listening, and explaining. I tend to value my own skills in this broad understanding of “communication.” I also like to think that I’ve gotten decently good at “seeing it from the other side.”
I can empathize like you wouldn’t believe it.
I can make a case for someone who did something terrible and make it sound like it wasn’t even their fault. I can play “devil’s advocate” all night long. And… I can hear your side. I can consider it. I can take it in and really live in it–try to understand why you might think or say or do that thing. (Whatever it is).
Maybe I won’t agree with you. Maybe on a bad day I’ll even be a little quick to judge and chalk it up to, “Because you’re dumb.” But… to be fair, the example my head is jumping to is politics and we all know that’s just a shit show anyway…
Anyway, my point here (for those who don’t know me) is that I’m decently open minded to most viewpoints. I love learning, and exploring, and conversations about more than just the weather. And besides for what I’m about to briefly discuss with you, I cannot think of even one single other time in my entire life where I was given so much grief… experienced so much stress and unhappiness… and was misunderstood in such a way.
The Tale of the Co-Worker From…
It doesn’t actually matter where they came from. The point is, they were there for a long time. And now they’re here. And they’re disrupting your whole flow. And they’re making your work-life miserable. And, honestly, you thought they were going to get fired. And then… they didn’t.
But you’re trying. And you’re friendly, even if you’re not a friend. And for the first few months when they first started, you tried so hard to help them understand the flow. And the pace. And just the how-to’s of a job that’s got a lot of how-to’s in a place that has even more. You even set aside whole afternoons, and hours at a time–just to answer their questions to help them GET IT.
But it didn’t work.
So you stopped trying so hard. Because it was a waste–emotionally and time-wise. And you just don’t have patience for waste anymore. Life is busy. And short. And you already spend too much time at work to not like what you’re doing at work.
Now… you try to communicate clearly and simply. You try to ask the right questions to get the answers you need. You’re direct, and business-like. But not cold. You just smile and nod and then go about your day like that last conversation that could have taken 1 minute but took 15 wasn’t eating you up slowly from the inside out the whole time. You’re professional. You’re not a gossip, but yeah–sometimes you have to vent to your work-friend to stay sane. Sometimes you have to open your eyes real big in a “what the fuck was that” moment when no one’s looking. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath, and hold it, and remind yourself not to scream on the breathing out part.
Now, you live in the twilight zone. Where you kind of just shrug and try to let go of it. Because no one can save you, here. And it’s definitely not ever going to make sense. Still frustrating as hell, though. So… we’re working on that.
But I just don’t know what to do to deal with this
The hard part is… that it’s not just one thing. I can’t describe it to you and say, “This one thing happened and that’s why this person is so difficult to work with.” I can’t say, “If we could address X then everything would get better.”
Because there is no X. No one thing. There is only absurdity. Twilight-zone-esque interactions. Frustrations. Stress like I have never ever ever ever experienced in a work or school or life setting. Miscommunication that doesn’t even begin to be described by the term “miscommunication.” Because there is a person who lives in their own reality. A person who is paranoid that everyone is “out to get them.”
So there is no reasoning. No “benefit of the doubt.” There is no reciprocation of trying to see from the other side.
Because, honestly… I’m a nice person. And my pre-existing co-workers are nice people.
But in the past six months, I’ve somehow come into the reputation of:
- Mean girls club member
- Relentless questioner of authority
- Unwilling to be flexible
- Unwilling to accept change/new ideas
- Among others…
And I’m just over here banging my head against a wall because clearly in the case of this new-co-worker… they don’t even know who I am, or care to get to know me. And in the case of my supervisor… apparently she’s forgotten my m.o. for the past 2.5 years that I’ve been an employee of hers. Though I guess personality, work ethic, and peer relationships don’t need a precedent…
In a professional sense (and let’s hope personal sense as well, eh?) I’m kind. And thoughtful. A listener. A helper. I’m loyal. I apologize. I ask questions. I’m friendly. I laugh. I love teaching students, and making new work-friends. I like to think I’m a decently nice human being, too.
And to be viewed by this new-comer, and subsequently my supervisor (because this new-comer discusses these things with my supervisor)… as someone who is an argumentative, stubborn, mean-girl. It’s hurtful. Awful.
I can remember being young and learning pretty early on that: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say it at all.”
But in the same thought as an adult… I feel like if something is wrong–we need to speak up about it, regardless of how “nice” it might be to someone. That’s why I have to talk about this. And that’s why I’m trying to make changes at work to make it better.
Really, though… I’m trying to let this go. But as soon as I think I’m finding a way to feel a little happier at work… something goes and happens to throw me right back into this angsty-drama of some twilight-zone where I’ve never lived before, nor do I enjoy being.
I love my job. I love what I do and the patients and families that I work with. I even genuinely enjoy the company of my co-workers.
So how does one person have the capacity to disrupt my work-life to this degree? I’m so unhappy at work, and it has nothing to do with my actual job.
I Don’t Know
I really don’t anymore. And I need to rant, and get some thoughts out of my head.
But I need help, too. I don’t even know how to move past this co-worker when my immediate department is literally 3 people. I don’t know how to let go and be happy at work again. I dread even being in an area that I could possibly encounter this person. Let alone talk to them any more than is minimally necessary.
Frustrated. Stressed. Lost. etc. etc. etc….
Anyway… until you need me, I’ll just be over here in this alternate-reality (Monday-Friday, roughly 7:30 – 4:00).
I’m not a gossipy person. I’m not a person who thrives on drama. It actually kills me slowly (my spirit anyway).
Also… any similarities to real-life are only a coincidence. The previous story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event. blah blah blah Or… something like that, right?