I’ve been sitting on this post for a week - ugh.

You may recall my saga in which it seems as though another postdoc had been trying to get me taken off of a project that was my brainchild — and now it seems he has successfully done so. I talked with my mentor last week and another trusted faculty this week. Talking to her clarified for me that I likely just want to let the whole thing go and move on. She was very helpful bc she provided emotional support and validation - and outlined my array of options. I realized that talking directly to those involved could just cause me more hurt (like talking to the postdoc offender) or cause actual professional harm to me (like talking to the dean involved — if the talk goes awry could affect her support of me). I decided it was better to let it go because the actual project has no value for my career and at the end of the day really doesn’t matter. And it matters far less than my goal of getting a faculty position. I have a lot of things that I really do need to focus on - and this is not one of them (my one worry is that this guy will get the idea that he can do this kind of shirt to me in the future - but he may take a faculty position elsewhere, in which case the point is moot).

The faculty member I talked to this week said that knowing this is how he works gives me power. Now I know and now I can make sure he doesn’t get anything from me that he can use against me (at least directly from me).

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She brought up the adage of “keep your enemies closer” - and we talked about my just having positive interactions with everyone when discussing this issue/project. There is a meeting next week about the project - and although I have been completely excluded from the project - I am going to just go in and act supportive of the direction they are taking with it (how I’m going to do that is beyond me - it takes way more emotional intelligence/social skills than I have - I may just have to aim for smiling and nodding throughout).

But how do you act like you don’t hate your enemies? Usually I just avoid people I hate because I find it very hard to act as if I like them - or at least can tolerate them. I will say that although I avoid him as much as possible, I do behave very appropriately with him. We were in a meeting and I talked about my experiences with something and asked him to share his perspectives. When he talks, I make eye contact and nod and smile (whereas when I speak, he looks away - turns his back to me, looks at his phone - anything but act engaged). He emailed me bc I had information he needed — and I gave it to him (although I did delay a few days). He never thanked me for it. His behaviors are really horrific - and I am trying to act as if I don’t notice. Important to note: men are way underrepresented in the field where I currently work - so if anyone notices these behaviors, they likely ignore them bc they need/want more men.

Is that the best I can/should do? Google suggests I should try to actually befriend him - but he is a liar, a horrific gossip, and trashes everyone behind their backs - I don’t really want that kind of energy in my life. I also really don’t like being fake.

I’d love to hear about how you deal with/have dealt with similar people in your life. Also, how do you get through really tough meetings where you feel unhelpfully criticized or where you have been in some way excluded or marginalized from a project/team?