Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yesterday's post was, I suppose, a case of the jitters. The fact is, I irritate the snot out of many people, and am not sure how I manage to do that. I know that people who consider themselves in charge are very often offended by me because I don't recognize their 'in charge-ness'. The teacher and the letter, for example. She felt her position to be unassailable, that she directed, we did. When I didn't, it plainly made her mad. For my part, it never occurred to me that she would see things that way. Our profession is all about the 'soft skills', accepting the differences in each other, etc. I didn't expect her to tap dance at my decision. I did expect her to use her active listening skills. I expected that we'd agree to disagree.

This has happened regularly to me along the way. My family, for instance, always believed that there is one way to think. I was always thinking off in a whole 'nother direction, and it made people mad. A lot. So much so that I simply stopped going around them because I was sick and tired of people trying to fix my thinking.

Working at the Kwik Fill, when a customer wanted flavored coffee and I made a pot, thereby bringing the wrath of the coworker from hell upon my head. I never saw that coming because, number 1, she was not called upon to do a thing, and number 2, it was good customer service, and number 3, a pot of coffee costs maybe 50c to make, one cup of coffee costs $1.19, for the small cup, and so no money was lost, the customer was happy, and my coworker was not involved. Except that she made herself involved, and she stayed mad for the rest of my time there, and tried to engage me in battle every chance she could.

The team leader at my clinicals said, a few weeks back, that she didn't know what to do with me. She'd never seen such a terrible student. I cried over that one. The COTA working with me had tried to have a discussion with me about another employee in the supply closet, not more than 10 feet away from a patient on a mat table. I was uncomfortable, trying to end that conversation quickly. It wasn't private, it wasn't professional. I did not want the other employee to think that we were talking about her. It was taken that I was challenging my advisor, and the team leader and the department head were quite unhappy with me and let me know it. In front of the rest of the OTs. Furthermore, they didn't want to hear my take.

You see how it is. I see things very differently from other people, and to me, my thinking makes perfect sense. It pisses others off. This is not a small problem to me. My 'no-brainers' are the bane of everyone else's existence. I really am wondering if I might not have Asperger's or something. My social skills seem to

In any case, today is a big day. This man is going home today. I'm glad. He's such a nice person, and such a gentle soul. He waits patiently for his family to come and get him. Sometimes 'the unit' gets wound up. One resident will get combative and loud, and the others will begin to react to that. Those employees work with a tough population, and I've never seen a one of them get impatient or frustrated. But what I did see, walking over to bring a patient back for therapy, was my gentle friend, waiting there with his hands on his knees, watching the aides try to reason with an angry and irrational (and loud) man. His eyes were wide, his mouth open. I recognized the look and it made me sick to think that he was afraid.

Long story short, his daughter witnessed something like this. She loves her daddy dearly. When he looked at her and said, confusedly, "I don't know why I'm here. I want to go home. I want my own bed," she made up her mind.

So when I went over to retrieve my good friend, his wife clutched my arm. "We're taking him home," she said. I thought they meant for a visit, but they assured me that it was for good. "We'll manage," they said. "We'll figure something out." With tears in my eyes, I said, "I can help. I can't guarantee that I'll be able to help all the time, but I would love to help out as much as I can," and they thanked me for that. I figured that was that, but before they left, they came to me. "Are you in the book?" they asked. I told them that I had recently moved, and our new number was not in the book. I wrote it down, and they carefully put it away. It makes me very happy to think that I will be a part of this love story.

Another thing? I got a letter from a neighbor of the waltzing widower, to thank me. I called her, and long story short, they've promised to come have supper one night. We recognized each other as kindred souls. I'm very happy to be a part of his story as well.

And so it goes.

I can't explain me. I just can't. I am not a perfect person. I am beloved. I know that. I am also a pain in the butt. Sometimes people just fit wherever they are, wherever they go. I'm not one of those people.

I have had a powerful realization of how what a powerful tool familiarity can be in working with Alzheimer's patients. I have also come across the European concept of snoezelen rooms. Last night, I couldn't sleep for thinking about it. What if a 'quiet place' could be set up at our facility? A soothing place, with soothing smells, sounds, colors, tactile experiences, where a patient could sit when he was combative and irrational, to feel a gentle breeze which caused chimes to ring, as he listened to birds chirp, surrounded by the smell of pine, or lilacs, maybe. Would it help? It was exciting to me to realize that I had much of the stuff on hand to experiment with the concept. There is a clever woman who works with the patients in the locked ward, and I cannot wait to speak with her today and see what she thinks of it.

Of course, this could just be me, pissing off yet another person in a position of authority.

It's hard to know.

But you can bet the ranch that I won't figure it out until the fecal material hits the rotary oscillator.


Snoskred said...

You said - " I see things very differently from other people, and to me, my thinking makes perfect sense. It pisses others off. "

But this is true of everyone, isn't it - that their thinking makes perfect sense to them. Whether or not it is different to how other people see things?

So the difference is the agreeing to disagree part. That is where things seem to fall down for you. You are willing to agree to disagree and leave it there whereas the other people want you to agree to agree and in some cases if you don't agree to agree it is going to end with them treating you badly.

There are times to stand strong and say no, I don't agree, and I can't agree, and I am sorry if you are not ok with that.

Then there are times when it is best to agree outwardly even if you do not agree inwardly.

I have Aspergers, so for me I need to recognise those times when I have to agree outwardly or to be seen to agree. In the workplace where I am not in charge it usually ends up with me having to agree outwardly.

And yes it sucks, and I am not in love with it, but sometimes to go along to get along works out best.

And sometimes, if I did something I thought (and still think) was the right thing to do but someone else (usually my team leader) does not agree with me.. and I can see that they are not going to let it go, and they are going to beat me about the head until I agree with them and back down and apologise and say I will do it their way in future..

I have a choice. Do I want to be beaten about the head for possibly eternity? Or do I want to just say ok, sorry, next time I'll do it your way? Which is easier in the long run, which is less likely to result in causing a rift which won't be fixed?

I've got to a place where I can be ok with agreeing outwardly. I had to otherwise it was going to break me and probably lose me my job.

Those people who fit where they are probably often feel that they disagree with the powers that be, but they know from bitter experience that it is in their best interests to disagree on the inside and leave it there instead of showing it on the outside.

And a lot of people do that not just at work but in families, with friends, a lot of places.

I can understand doing it in the workplace (especially in this economy) and maybe with some friends but family is a place you should be safe to express what you really think.

Anyway, those are just some random thoughts on that.. hope it is food for thought.. :)

Kelly said...

I think a lot of it just boils down to "you can't please everyone". You're such a good-hearted person you find it difficult not to care or worry about what everyone thinks about you. From what I know of you here, you're a good person and very good at what you do - whether it's your new profession or just working at the Tractor Supply. Just keep on doing what you think is right and, as my husband would say, "bean on the others"!

BUSH BABE said...

You know that we wouldn't want you to be any other way, right? I know its in your DNA to care so much, but maybe you need NOT to take to heart so much others responses to you... You have so much invaluable life experience it would be crazy not to challenge things when you can see a problem. Sometimes people NEED pulling up and to recognise that points of view other than their own are worth considering. Even if its personally uncomfortable for them. A good leader knows this.

And I think EVERYONE wonders where they fit sometimes... I believe many great blogs start out with this very question.


Mary Paddock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Paddock said...

It's taken this people pleaser a very, very long time to stop trying to please everyone. Though I didn't realize it when I began this journey, I was emotionally exhausted and burned out from forty years of going the extra mile in the name of attaining approval. Just when I thought I'd attained it, there would be someone there prepared to show me my shortcomings and blame me for anything that didn't go perfectly. All I knew at the time was that I resented everything everyone outside of my family asked of me and if something didn't change I was going to implode. All of this was no one's fault but my own very flawed motivations for doing what I did. Learning to put some distance between myself and expectations of others helped enormously. Gaining this time and distance has given me this perspective--

You can only control just so much about what people think of you. So you put my best foot forward--dress for whatever part you're playing, speak carefully when it matters, and endeavor to always work from a base of compassion. When you piss someone off ask yourself if you were doing the best you could with the information you had at the time. If the answer was yes, then you move on. If someone wants to lecture you--you remember that you were doing the best you could, take what they offer that's useful (sometimes others are right) and ignore the rest. And if they stay pissed over something petty (like you refusing to gossip over another coworker), then it's their problem--NOT yours.

And for what it's worth, I've never, ever felt like I fit into any group or belonged anywhere--outside of my family (and I'm talking Gary and the boys) and home. And I've determined that it's perfectly okay that I don't. By the way, I've never been good with anger--how to respond to it in others or how to express my own (a strict upbringing that didn't allow an expression of it in children, or a response to the anger of others has a lot to do with this). I still apologize too much.

I think when we focus on finding acceptance at work from coworkers and supervisors (especially supervisors) that we will often come up wanting. It's a supervisor's job, in part, to troubleshoot and/or prevent problems. They will look at those they they supervise through this lens. Sometimes--incorrectly--you will be the one they decide is the source of trouble. It is not usually personal for them, it just feels that way to you. Coworkers bring their own issues into the equation--they are often just as insecure as you are, with problems and histories of their own. Sometimes you will be blessed with a friend, other times you will be the unlucky receptacle for their emotional garbage.

Hang in there Deb.

Whytefeather said...

Hmmm, doesn't sound to me like you need a change a thing about you... I think you are just right :)

It's true we can't please everyone all the time and well every one has their own drum to dance to.

I can't even imagine a teacher being so horrid as to say that to a student "that she didn't know what to do with me. She'd never seen such a terrible student." That speaks volumes to me of her lack as a teacher.
Keep your chin up and keep being you.

Coralee said...

We each have a quality that irks someone else. For instance, I've been told I'm too nice. I'm not sure I understand why that is a bad thing, but it is to the person who complained to me about it. I try to get along with everyone but a person who is self assured and full of opinions can make me uncomfortable. Which may relate back to the 'you're too nice' comment because I can easily agree outwardly with whatever is being said and not feel obliged to argue or disagree as opposed to voicing my own opinion and perhaps having an argument or a heated discussion.
Your gift of confident expression may have the same affect as my 'niceness' does on the folks you've mentioned.
My Dad is fond of saying, "They'll either stay mad or they'll get over it" when he voices his strong opinions. You are who you are and perhaps you will be able to show others there are more options than they first imagined.