It’s rather backwards around here where I work. Communication is poor and people working hardest at that seem to be the ones that are deemed the trouble makers. Of course I am seen as one of those, as you have guessed by now. As I am one that believes that talking things out is always the best policy, but sadly this flies in the face of management here at the fire station.
After a huge confrontation between me and an Officer, which happened in public, there was much wound licking and cold shouldering coming from the Officer. We both talked to the ‘boss’ about the incident, told our sides separately, and of course believed we were right in our fashion. We had never really gotten along that well, but had come to a toleration agreement, and over the last years done fairly well. But that night, there was a major melt-down. This lead to the Officer basically embarrassing himself in front of many people, which in turn made his love for me no greater.
He left on vacation shortly after, but this did nothing to soften his emotions. In fact, he came back feeling as though this incident would be the impetus for his handing in his retirement letter! At first I was quite OK with that, considering he really hadn’t given much to the department in many years. That, and his continued attitude towards me and others. But the Chief pointed out that he was, and had been, a valued member for many years–and I had no right to judge his position there.
This got me thinking about it all and my actions that night that lead to the outburst on his part. And I certainly instigated it, rightly or not, I said the first thing. While his subsequent behavior was uncalled for, maybe I should not have said what I said to in the first place.
So I decided to go to my boss, and the next in command and tell them I would be willing to take full responsibility for the incident. That I would say I was sorry for starting it all, without any need to explain myself or expectation of anything from the Officer in question. My feeling was, for the greater good of the department, and because my boss felt this person’s value worthy, I needed to be the bigger person and just put an end to all the tension and fighting. That was my reasoning.
But rather than being met with a positive reception to this idea, I was told no, do not talk to him. I was told he just needs to calm down and maybe he will eventually come to you (which I know will most likely never happen given our past interactions). That I should stop worrying so much about it all–actually making it seem like somehow this is my issue. Instead of being commended for how I have changed and grown as person, there was not one word of the good thing I was offering to do. Just: leave him alone; your personality is different from his and you shouldn’t communicate with him. Just forget about it!
I was told in my initial meeting that it’s simply “different personalities” that make for the issues here at work. But I disagree! I truly believe it’s far more than that here. One major factor contributing to the problems here between co-workers is the poor management style. When conflict does arise, instead of having healthy ways to deal with it, often the managers become part of the problem. They often gossip about the issues to other co-workers and talk behind backs. They don’t encourage open and positive communication among the bickering colleagues unless pressed. There is no actual system whereby someone can can ‘complain’ in a legitimate way without seeming like a crybaby, say for instance a committee made up of the Chief, a peer and one Officer. Maybe first one does something in writing, then it person. All people should be called into the office to discuss things together. This idea that ‘it’s just different personalities’ and things can’t be worked out because of that is simply childish.
So now I am on edge and feel badly that this Officer is angry or feeling badly and I’m not allowed to make anything better. I would be going against a direct order if I attempted to try to make it better. And he may be thinking that I’m just a jerk because I didn’t, which doesn’t make me feel very good. I understand I have to simply let go of it, but it’s extremely frustrating to have people in charge that have so little management skills. They control (or try to) when they don’t have a clue. It’s sad.
I’m hoping I get the opportunity, at some point at least, so say my piece. Then if he still feels the same way, at least I tried. It becomes his issue then.
I like my dog better
He runs away
But not because I don’t buy him stuff
And he comes back when he’s hungry
And he’s never mad
I like my dog better
Even though he may have bad breath
And not brush his teeth
But I can do it for him
And he won’t be insulted
That I think he ate something gross
I like my dog better
Although he tracks mud in my house
And doesn’t sweep up after
I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know
Or can’t leave his four paws at the door
My dog is much better
Because he’s always happy
Unless he’s sick
Even then he’s not crabby
And is still my best bud
I love my dog better
He’s always by my side
And never contradicts
Or questions my knowledge
Is thankful for my time
He is way better
Than most I meet
With no words
Gifts or promises
I will take him any day
And am grateful
He wagged his way into my life
As truly it would be
As I lay waking
Shaking slumber from my sleeping brain
I thought about changing
How changing relationships involves really only
That big, bold, brazen self
We carry around with us
Sometimes like a shield
Sometimes like a sword
Sometimes like a rock to crawl under
The phone rings
A friend has lost a man
Because she did not want more
Just wanted to be a friend
He walked and took his
Ego with him
Only humans carry it
Not the crow
Cawing atop the tree
For he is simply singing his story
Across the miles
Nor the wolf
Snarling sharp white incisors
Fiercely at foe
Never to harm, only to communicate
I am alpha
Or even turkey
Puffed and prodigious
Strutting, impressing to find a mate
But we lug our ego
And slam it against one another
We call it by other names
But what is it really?
When we let it go
What then do we have?
We can face each other
With no masks
Shed of all that hides us
We become real
It’s a risky business
It’s an animal business
Innocent and inherited
Imagine facing one another
I suppose I had been getting to my wit’s end. My work was just awful: my co-workers seemed miserable to me, I was tired of what I was doing, my boss was on my nerves and I was simply ready to be done. Because of this nothing was going right–my patient care was suffering, my interactions with my colleagues often seemed confrontational and I was so unhappy.
So began the long soul-searching, heart wrenching time trying to figure out what was next. Those of you that follow my blog have read through the meandering path I’ve been struggling down with regards to where my life was headed. Everything seemed like a dead-end. Applying for jobs all turned up sour. Going back to school couldn’t wrap around bills, time and working. It all became so bleak.
And one day it all just came to a head. I just didn’t know what to do anymore. We all at times feel like we’ve hit a wall and there’s simply no way out. Well, that was me and I knew I was sinking in a quicksand that had me up to my neck. Either I do something or I would be lost.
I’m not quite sure the turning point–maybe there was not one–maybe a few, but I quickly began to realize I had to do a 180 change. In order to get on with my life in any reasonable and livable fashion, I would have to change my thinking. All the clichés would have to come together for me and work: let go, give in, think positively…
The first thing I did was to write my Chief a letter. In it I said that in my job and life what my ultimate goal was to find joy. Not money or position, but simply joy. And I told him he really had the key to help unlock some of that joy. And that was by doing simple things: listening, being respectful and making me feel valued.
Secondly I tried to change myself rather than expect my co-workers to change. Especially ones that I may have had difficulties with in the past. I realized that because of being unhappy there, my attitude hadn’t been stellar. I’m sure my grumpiness, negativity and just being down got on everyone’s nerves. So I reached out to selected ones and just tried harder. Honestly, they are all people who I genuinely liked and who do a good job. And even the ones that struggle, I’m trying to take a different tactic with them. To think before I speak.
I decided that, for now at least, I must keep this job. Nothing is coming my way–for whatever reason. The economy, because I’m meant to be there, my resume–I don’t know. But I’m not finding anything else. So I need to make the best of it! Whining and complaining won’t do me a lick of good.
This simple act of changing my attitude has monumentally changed things for me too! People’s attitudes towards me is ever so much better. I’m more relaxed and look forward to going in now. Patient care is getting back to where it used to be. Communication is all around way better for me there.
I can’t say everything is perfect in my life. There are still times I wonder if this is all there is: get up go to work go to bed and then do it all over again. I’m doing this pretty much 6 days per week now. At least I’m not hating it like before. It was killing me a few months ago, so something had to give.
We can use this for anything in life: just deciding we’re OK and accepting. Acceptance is a beautiful thing. Sometimes it can be something very hard we have to accept: cancer, death, divorce. But when we get to that last phase of grief, then we can let go. But sometimes accepting something in life that’s just difficult, we can turn it into something not so bad. If we just try to see all that’s good about it–and there’s always something good–we can press on, and maybe even find our joy.
And when all else fails, we can always pull the last card and think about all the people worse off. The ones without a job altogether, or sicker than we are, or no home, or who lost their whole family because of a war…. There’s always someone worse off. So, I will keep trying to hang onto this new attitude. It takes so much less energy to be happy and nice, and the returns are way better.