Friday, January 11, 2013


I've always been sort of self effacing. I feel like a dumb person quite frequently, and I embarrass myself on a regular basis. I never miss an opportunity to point out my own shortcomings.

The new job has been a challenge, mostly because I work in 4 different sites, and I'm struggling to keep it all straight in my head, to be where I am supposed to be, do what I am supposed to do.

One site is difficult. They have not taken to the changes from corporate very well. They are angry. Moreover they are immature. Lots of vulgarity and swearing, and angry rhetoric. Petty. I tried to explain to my supervisor the difficulty that I was having. I was planning to have a sit down with my site manager there, and wanted to apprise her of this so that she knew what was in the works.  I gave her an example that to me summed up the pettiness. She was quite upset and called the director of the facility. Long story short, lots of pissed people. It doesn't matter, not really, because they were pissed long before I got there. They've just got a different target now. Me.

In the middle of this chaos, I made another mistake. I changed an appointment. Working at the corporate level, I use a different e-mail system now. Except that I needed to contact that supervisor on another e-mail system. After several months of not using that, I made a very foolish mistake. The first block of that system asked for the sender. I entered her e-mail there instead of my own. The e-mail did not send. I did not realize it.

That supervisor is angry. Rightfully so. She waited for me to show up, and I did not. I had a training. I realized my mistake when I sent a second e-mail to apologize, and to tell her that I'd sent an e-mail and it did not send for what ever reason. That e-mail did not send either. I asked for help, discovered my mistake, and sent out yet another apology. Her e-mail was angry, and pointed out that I was unprofessional and an embarrassment to say the least.

I studied her words. I had it coming, and I replied to it saying, "It was. You are right. The mistake was not intentional, and once again, I am sorry for the inconvenience." She's a tough person, but fair. I have no doubt that once I work with her, we'll get on just fine, but she has every right to be angry. It was a stupid mistake.

My supervisor at the angry site had said, "You need to stop being so thin skinned." I am overly sensitive to criticism. I know this. Listening to non-stop complaining about losing a long term employee has made me feel awkward and unwelcome. That's not my imagination. It bothers me.

Now I made a mistake which made another supervisor angry.

I was very discouraged last night, but I decided this: As a new person, I am being watched. I am being criticised. Sometimes I deserve it. Sometimes I don't. But with all the criticism flying around, the one thing that will never happen again is that they will not hear me criticise myself. They will just have to find their own ammunition, because I am no longer providing it for them.

Today, I went to work and it was different. I bit my tongue when I felt stupid.  I said nothing. I found that I was biting my tongue a lot. Surprised me.

At the end of the day, my coworker said, "You seem different today..."

I smiled. "Really?" I said. And that was all I said.


Snoskred said...

I work somewhere that people never miss an opportunity to point out others mistakes - but *never* mention their own. And if you point out a mistake they made to them, it is no big deal and forgotten immediately - whereas they go on and on about the mistakes other people make. Sometimes for *months*.

I like the biting the tongue idea. It certainly is one way to show you how much you were doing that.

I am however concerned about that thin skinned comment. I've had that said to me before and what it really meant was "you need to let people treat you badly and bully you and learn to keep your mouth shut about it".

And maybe the supervisor at the angry site needs to be less thick skinned and start dealing with the way people are acting - this might be a reason why that site is so angry, that things are never handled properly there and everyone is just told to "harden up, princess".

I never reply to "angry" work emails anymore. The kind that say you did xx wrong, pls explain.

I have a bad reaction to those emails. My first instinct is always to type in a mass of stuff in response, justification, defense of myself, etc.

I might type it out, but I always delete it. I never hit send anymore.

If someone has a problem with me, they can take me aside and discuss it face to face. And I find if I don't reply to the emails, they forget all about it. So it must never have been important in the first place and me replying to the email could easily have made things worse. :)

I just wish people could be respected - when they make a mistake as everyone does from time to time, that others could be nicer about it.

jeanie said...

Oh Deb - lots of hugs to you. Given what happened recently over here, I have no advice at all...

KarenTX said...

hang in there, girlie! You are good with people, good at your job, just going to take some getting used to. Don't let them shake your confidence!

BUSH BABE said...

You can only explain how it happened, work out that it won't happen again and get on with it. Hang in there girl... you will do just fine. Nothing ever goes perfectly at the start of a new (and complicated) job.

Bob said...

As I have told my children countless times, you will ALWAYS work with difficult people. You can count on it as sure as the sun coming up. Those people do not define you; they can make your life miserable but they do not define you.

Your employer is lucky to have you.

Scotty said...

The last few times that I've been in situations like that, I have done one of two things:

a. Stayed quiet, nodded my head, smiled and walked away.

b. Said to them, "I hope you feel better for getting that off your chest," then smiled and walked away.

Argumentative and surly folk in the workplace can often be easily disarmed that way.

Several workmates have asked me how I manage to stay calm with those folks and I always give them one of my favourite quotes -

Never argue with an idiot; it drags you down to their level and amuses all the onlookers.

It's difficult at times, yes, but it's doable and it's quite empowering.

Bob said...

My first job out of law school was as law clerk for a trial judge who taught me a quote similar to the one shared by Scotty:

Never try to educate a pig. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

jeanie said...

Along with those quotes, the one's that I am familiar with are:

Never argue with an idiot - bystanders won't be able to tell the difference.

Never argue with an idiot - they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

quid said...

So difficult... in the slam bam world of New York banking, you needed to be tough and not afraid to run with the dogs... hold your own at the bargaining table.

Then I came south. My ability to go toe to toe was viewed with some raised eyebrows. I was seen as pugilistic rather than standing up for my own turf. I learned to either prepare my reactions in some positive type of feedback design, or not say anything at all.

I still do that. I pick my spots. Sometimes I raise issues and risks on a topic; go to the line, and then gracefully allow someone else to shoot the freethrow, or just not put the ball up. Sometimes I can judge that my input will not be valuable and keep my silence. Sometimes I realize I'm just too passionate or emotional or invested in a topic to argue gracefully, and I keep silent and raise my points using a different forum, later, when my own reactions have ebbed.

Never easy. Especially when you don't know the terrain. Just recognizing that you need to find the page and get on it, and to talk with the person you're responsible to, is a great start.

Hang in there, kid.