Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Directness, rational and gooey center

“I love your sense of humor and directness” – quote from a good bye letter by a coworker. This coupled with a lot of discussion the last year with coworkers and friends has led me to wonder about a few things. (The yearly pondering was part of the “coaching experience” I have mentioned briefly before in this blog. It turned out to be pretty intense, at least for me.)
First of all, just because I don’t talk about feelings all the time doesn’t mean I don’t have them. It’s just complicated. Second of all, I’m not sure “feelings” should take up that much of the work space. It’s just complicated. Third, if I don’t like you – I’m really not going to talk about my feelings. It’s just complicated. Fourth, I’m not going to talk too much about feelings in my workplace. It’s just complicated (hello “emotional female scientist who cries”, not here.)
A lot of discussion has been phrased in the words of “you need to show you’re human and emotional in order to connect with people [in the lab/team]”. While I understand where this is coming from, and I do appreciate the sentiment, the notion of “what these feelings are” seem to differ a lot between me and some of the people I interact with.
I’m not a fan of delving into my personal life at work. Again, while I understand that people want to share their stories about their children (as the least common denominator…), about their wonderful loving spouse and parents etc. As I’ve said before, I stick to sports or cooking (but even that can apparently turn into “elitism”). It’s usually awkward for those of us who don’t have poster-child families to be in the run with the personal things. We who aren’t married with 2.2 children, white picket fence, fancy car and loving parents and grandparents where all in-laws get along. Not to mention we who might have some baggage and non-straight line trajectories and opening ourselves up for more personal questions that may or may not arise during these conversations.

Of course, “directness” doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with “feelings and personal”. It’s more a question on how you phrase things and what you decide to voice and not. And yes, I can be direct and blunt sometimes. I can also be smooth talking and indirect in my comments. I think the main difference though, is that sometimes I chose to be direct (even when I could be smooth). Why? Because I’m bored being the cute woman who is correct and demure. Sometimes I just feel like saying “this is F and G and you need to decide which you want”. It’s also sometimes where the indirectness makes it possible for the other person to ignore what you’re saying and do something completely different “you weren’t clear”. To avoid those things, why not just be direct?

I know, I’m overreacting. However, it is a lot of “risk for judging” the more you are “personal” at work. And maybe, just throwing it out there, maybe I’m not really comfortable knowing too much personal stuff about you since I might be prone to start having prejudice against you? (Just tossing the idea out there, considering one of my old coworkers started talking about why they only had one child and that spilled into “all those who have children who can’t take care of them, we really should sterilize them in order for them to receive the welfare checks”…. Yeah… we really bonded. Not.)

Going back to the feelings talk and the “you’re very rational and analytical”. Yes, I’ve realized a lot that I don’t make decisions with my tummy (or heart). And especially not at work. However, that doesn't mean I don't do it at home/personal life. It's more of a decision to keep rational in science and feelt gooey center in personal life. there is also the choice of not being "an emotional woman" in the work place - as Nobel laureates have mentioned lately - and therefore I wonder, in my ever feministic thinking mind, "would it be such a talking point of I was a man, and still rational"? Just a small thought, in a big world...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

warning signs and sensitivity

"Look for differences in behaviour, especially if calling in sick Mondays or directly after vacation days" - that's part of what it says under "warning signs" in our Employer handbook. It's referring to "substance abuse" and potential dangerous situations. Signs that people should pick up on and call the employee in and have a discussion about it.

"Look for differences in behaviour, like suddenly texting in the bathroom and hiding the phone" from parents who are worried about drug abuse in their teenagers or the partner who is worried about cheating or criminal activities.

"Look for differences in behaviour, and withdrawing from social interactions and making up excuses for the bruises" when discussing domestic violence.

"Look for differences in behaviour, like going for a nap in the afternoon or sleeping very late in the mornings" for signs of depression.

Similar, "look for insomnia and having more drinks than before" for alcohol abuse.

These warning signs, and changes in behaviour, are picked up and worried about differently depending on your background. At least I feel that I'm in the "over sensitive" portion of the crowd. Most likely based on my history and run ins with a few of these "changes in behaviour". I try not to over-read people and situations, but it's annoying and worrying me at times since I might pick up on things that may or may not be there.

Not to mention that I over-ananlyse myself at times, looking at my own behaviour and interpreting me in the eyes of another. I personally think that I should've been asked a few times about certain behaviour. And there was that time years ago when someone at uni really should've asked me "what's going on", but with asking comes responsibility and I'm quite sure they didn't want that...

I got reminded about this a little while back when I had to question if I was over sensitive or if there was real cause for concern. I wouldn't want to sound the alarm and alert, if indeed it was nothing. Think of all the trouble they'd go through. I decided to sit back a little and collect the signs for just a little longer and so far, they've not kept coming up. Maybe it wasn't a real canary - just a yellow gleen of light?