Follow up to So Damn Tired

Apr 13 2017 Published by under Uncategorized

I went to talk to a very wise someone about the problems with my department chair that I outlined here.

She gave me two insights.

The first was: rather than seeing this as you against him, it seems to me that you are both passionate about the same thing, and just see different ways of getting to things. You both want to protect, promote and support the junior faculty. He may have genuinely been trying to protect the male faculty from what he saw as an attack. [yeah, and maybe he was just uncomfortable at being called out on crap that men do, but I am trying to be open here]. But you will get further, and things will go smoother, if you look to what you share rather than how he offends you.

The second overarching insight (which *of course* we know except when we don't) is that people don't always say what they mean, and that the real message may be a layer or two down. The specific part of this insight concerned a frequent behavior from my chair that I get when I try to answer him (argue with him?). He often holds up his hands and says "I don't want back and forth on this". I interpret this to mean "here's my view, and I don't give an anything about your views". The wise person said "that could just be his way of saying to you: you're not listening to me".

Probably so.

3 responses so far

  • Anon says:

    Honestly, I spent a lot of time interpreting and re-interpreting a difficult colleague's words so as to give myself a reason to get along with him (i.e., work with him). In the end, it was not worth it. YMMV.

    I would like to ask you, however, if you are not at an age or stage in your career now where you can stop bending over backwards to work with difficult people who I'm sure don't spend half the time thinking about you or what you said or may have meant, etc., as you do about them, when will you be? What hope is there for the rest of us?

    • potnia theron says:

      The YMMV hits it on the head. There is a decision point where you decide: this is NOT worth it anymore. Where that occurs is different for different people. What is acceptable and you swallow to keep the job, to keep going, is not going to be the same for everyone.

      There is always hope. Period, else why even go on? IME, there are difficult and unpleasant people in every walk of life, in every field. You can end up hoping from one place to another, never spending enough time to make your own dreams come true because you run from difficulty.

  • xykademiqz says:

    There is only so much mental and emotional bandwidth that one person deserves before they get on the permanent "f**k you" list. A little more if they have some power over you, but generally there are always limits.

    For me, this whole academic year has been tainted by the interactions with one very difficult colleague from another department; she used to be a friend and I sort of saw the signs of discord, but now that we had to work together, all the issues came out loudly and clearly and I am done with them. Basically the person is a) always hinting rather than saying what they want and then throwing fits when desires are not interpreted correctly, b) not accepting 'no' when it's clearly given because they just want what they want and are used to getting it, but what they are trying to do doesn't work on me, and c) the person seems to think I have nothing better to do with my time than think about their schedule, feelings, and hangups. This one person has cost me innumerable hours of annoyance and venting to my husband and just wasted time that I could have been productive or could have done something more enjoyable than fuming.

    I am delighted that the service role will end and I won't have to interact with this person any more, but feel sorry for those continuing. I have no intention whatsoever trying to figure out how to get along any more, because I've done my share, and to be honest -- maybe that person needs to think about how to get along with me. I am too old to have to feel everyone's pulse all the time. Right now, the person's on my avoid-at-all-costs list and I have no more f**cks to devote to understanding the inner working of their psyche. They can go f**c themselves and annoy someone else.

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