Friday, August 6, 2010

There's a First for Everything

(Not my actual face)

I suppose that if you are going to work in the corporate world for as long as I have, you should not be surprised by what you see, what you hear or by the actions of those around you. A corporate office is a microcosm of personality and as they say (whoever "they" are), it takes all kinds. Because of this and the very nature of human nature, sometimes people may pre-judge or jump to conclusions about you, whether this is fair or not. Take my recent encounter with Newbie A for example.

On Friday morning, Newbie A pulled one of my coworkers aside and asked what my story was. I will be joining Newbie A's group in a couple of weeks and he had concerns. He wanted to know if I was going to be OK to work with because I looked "mean". I nearly hit the floor when I heard that. I always have a smile for everyone and am well known for my cheerful demeanor and willingness to help. I've been called a lot of things in my LOOOOOOOONG career, but this is the first time I have ever been described as mean (In the office, that is. My kids have hurled that at me on more than one occasion).

My coworker strung Newbie A along for quite a while, telling him that I was a complete horror show and that I'd make him cry if he made a mistake. The beads of sweat began to form as Newbie A wondered out loud whether he made a mistake in coming to this group. Eventually, my coworker let him off the hook and told him how absurd that assumption was, assuring him that I was one of the "cool people" and that I would be very supportive and nice to work with.

Hearing about their exchange made me wonder - maybe Newbie A was just being a little paranoid and crazy or maybe I had done something to bring it on. I needed to give this some thought. What could I have done to give off a vibe that would make someone use the word "mean" when describing me?

When I looked back, I realized that I have been incredibly sad this month, as the situation at work has been less than ideal. It all started when my amazing, beloved and supportive manager was reassigned to another group. completely out if the blue. Once he left, I got snatched up by another group that is drowning in work and has an out of control business user community. So, I lost my boss, got moved to a team that I'm hesitant about working for and I have to leave behind a project that I have worked very hard on so that a pathetic brown noser can bring it over the finish line and look like a star. I suppose that I have been wearing all of this on my face, in my body language, in my recently acquired death stare.

I guess the smart thing to do is to take this as a wake-up call. My job mourning period is over and it is time for me to pull my self out of the funk that I have been wallowing in and do what's right for the sake of myself, my reputation and my coworkers. I know that I am stronger than the situation. I have certainly weathered worse in my career. Oh, and I am definitely not telling my kids about this because, the last thing they need is that kind of validation.

14 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

Aging Mommy said...

I think this applies not just to the workplace but to just about any place and any situation. When you meet someone for the first time you instantly make a judgement call on them - then look for signs that verify that call. First impressions take a long time to get past too, if they are indeed wrong. I know all this and I still do it, make a quick call about someone new. Anyway, I hope life gets better at work, it is never fun if you are not enjoying it.

That One Mom said...

You're so smart! What a great thing to take from all of that! Best wishes on your new project.

linlah said...

Funk and wallow, isn't that a dictionary? Glad you're coming out of the hole.

Linda Medrano said...

Move on, Honey. And wait till that Newbie does something you don't like to scare him! "Looking mean can be a great tool!"

Beth Zimmerman said...

I have an adult daughter who has been putting us through the wringer and all sorts of people call or drop by looking for her. Not all of these people are reputable! About a month ago I had had enough when a (probably very nice) young man, with a strong accent rang the doorbell and asked for Erica. I said she wasn't here, didn't live here, and I didn't know how to contact her, and then I slammed the door assuming I would never see him again! (You know what they say about assumptions, right?) He dropped by a few days later, when she was in the yard, and told her that I was *mean* to him! (I guess I was!) Yesterday I answered the door to find him cowering on the other side asking to speak to Erica's father! I guess he's had enough of me.

I really feel bad about that because I am not generally a mean person!

Lin said...

Works sucks, doesn't it? I wish I could find a way to get paid for not going in. Sigh.

I am not good at office any kind of politics, so I try to work part-time to stay out of it. It's hard though because there are so many personalities and you end up judging and being judged.

I try to just be playful and fun and not get into anyone's drama. And if someone needs help, I do what I can to help. If they judge me poorly from there, that is their problem.

I can attest that you are actually a fun gal, so if you need a note or something on Monday, let me know.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

I think it's important to note that this is not a reputation, just one person's perception during a difficult time. I am certain that once we work together, he will realize that I am Mary Effing Sunshine most of the time, which is what makes the perception so absurd. I am certain that once I pull myself out of this funk and stop dragging my butt around the office like an angsty teen, there won't be anymore misunderstandings.

Sara said...

Isn't that funny how differently people see us?

Since I moved to the South, I've been told I'm "aggressive."

I about pissed myself when I heard that because all through high school and college, I was often seen as a raging push-over.

Life is wacky.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Sara - That's interesting. I am sure that if I moved to the south, I would be tagged similarly, if not worse. I'm not sure where you are from, originally, but there is a speed and cadence to the way New Yorkers (like me) speak that wigs out anyone south of New Jersey.

The Empress said...

You are so dang right. Your kids would be all over that, well, like a kid would be all over that.

Smart move, woman.

I've been told I look mean my whole life, it's just the way my face is.

Bossy Betty said...

Sometimes I hear reports from people who have dropped out of my class that they did so because I was "mean" and "strict." It is always shocking to hear what people perceive. I certainly don't mean to come across that way. Well, most of the time...

Your post made me think, baby! I don't really like to do that much....

Arizona Mamma said...

Throughout life, I have been told by various people "I thought you hated me when we met." I never cease to be astonished at this. It's never the case. Has me wondering what the hell sort of vibe I put off in the beginning. I always considered myself easy to get along with.

Midwestern Mama Holly said...

Good luck with your new projects. When I was working I always liked having the mean persona.. that way no one really bothered me with stupid ass questions. Im a real social butterfly... yessire that's me!

Aunt Juicebox said...

I think there is something about my own demeanor that puts a lot of people off. I do tend to be serious when it comes to things like the work place, but I think I'm an easy going, approachable person. Other people just don't seem to think so. ;)

I'm sorry you've been sad about work.

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