Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ignoring Aggravation

When I first started working, someone much older and wiser had taught me the importance of a) not allowing situations at the workplace to cause aggravation and b) in event of (a) happening despite best faith efforts, not bringing the aggravation home. I have for the most part been quite good about following both rules. The last week however posed quite a challenge for my resolve.

F used to be an ordained minister before he turned into a technology professional. A bad career transition by all accounts given his repulsive personality and total ineptitude at all things technology. The only way he knows to get any work done is to rave and rant at people causing them public humiliation. One woman I know was reduced to tears and had to leave a meeting when he did his thing to her. How he manages not to get laid off is a matter of much speculation and there are several "interesting" theories around that. I have one of my own.

This week was my turn. I think I fared a lot better than the other woman because of how the team rallied around me. The moment he was out of earshot, they started joking about him until they got me to see the humor in the situation. Since that incident, I am always offered company if I need to talk with F. Most often the "company" does the talking on my behalf. F has backed off seeing that I have a strong support system. Despite all that, I was very aggravated by his crude, unprofessional and in retrospect demented behavior. Even as I realized that I had no way of knowing how to deal with someone who was possibly mentally ill, it stayed on my mind all day. I failed on rule (a) and had to try very hard to follow at least (b)

It took some words of wisdom from J to shake me out of my funk. "Miss C says when people act up you're supposed to gnore them. We gnore Bryce when he calls Susan Caitlin. He thinks its funny to keep saying her name wrong. Miss C said its not funny and he's just acting up" F had acted up too and like Bryce had misrepresented who I was.

Unlike the kids in J's class, we were collectively perpetuating his bad behavior by not ignoring him. I realized he must be chomping at the bit to get at me again seeing how I came "armed" to face him. What we learn in kindergarten is meant to help us all our lives - if only we would remember that.


SFGary said...

Nicely written, any more like this and you might see me coming by again. It almost persuades me to restart my dormant blog of 3 years.

Anyway, the problem lies with the management of your department/ company or organization. They probably know how he behaves but still put up with it. Little do they realize that this sort of tyrant behavior saps the energy out of the workplace and reduces the employees to produce just enough to get by. The smarter or the more mobile ones see this writing on the wall and move to companies that value their contribution and reward them for it. Other are trapped by on e reason or the other.

As someone who has been down the road before I am willing to bet that this "F" is waiting for you to slip up. I don't know what your line of work is but if I were you I would look for a more hospitable environment.

After my last such experience I am once again back to the land of entrepreneurship even though I lost my shirt the last couple of times...

Heartcrossings said...

I decided to take J's advise seriously and went into F's lair unaccompanied today and returned alive and well :)

The problem with a big company is that there is too much going on for anyone to take note of F or his behavior. His superiors most likely don't even know he exists.

Until he gets downsized as he doubtless will in time, he will be an irritant that we will all need to "ignore" and go on with work.

Thanks for stopping by !

ggop said...

I hear you. Does he have some crucial skills that makes him indispensable? SFgary is right when he says the organization is allowing him to get away with it.

I can't believe he was an ordained minister. Were his ancestors in charge of the Spanish Inquisition in some previous birth? :-) (I watched some BlackAdder on dvd recently so that's why this image)

Good advice from J :)

Heartcrossings said...

Hey GG,

No. Surprisingly F brings NOTHING to the table that is exceptional besides his obnoxious behavior :) Maybe he is part of some sinister HR psych-ops strategy that we don't know about...