I come from a family of shouters. If you don’t like something someone said or did, you shout. If you do not shout, you insult them. I’ve been out in the world long enough that I understand that’s not how healthy people function and it turns out, I’m not much for raising my voice and lashing out makes me feel like a shitty person, so it hasn’t been a big deal to behave differently. But it has been challenging to figure out how to address conflict, because my only template was a terrible idea.
In the last few days, I’ve had to quietly identify several examples of people I had previously respected being ... well, awful. One person had a great idea six years ago, and I helped her build that great idea into an empire which has really helped her career and ... not hurt mine. (Although it has not helped to the same degree.) Earlier this week she was featured in the biggest periodical in our field listed as “the” founder of that idea and my name was ten or fifteen lines down in much smaller print. I asked her if that was the official stance of the organization, because ... yes, she can technically claim it, but also, yes, it makes me feel differently about my level of commitment and involvement with the organization. (I am currently covering many of her duties because she is on maternity leave. None of this is paid - I just wanted to make sure things kept humming as usual, because I care about the thing.) She insisted she didn’t submit that phrasing to the journal (she didn’t), but I had to gently point out that her own professional bio said the same. So it didn’t come from thin air.
She was quick to walk it back and change her bio and do all the things one should do when one is called on being an ass, but it’s still out there, and I still feel a little sour about what is (or at one time was), apparently, her worldview. She was worried it would be a big thing and I pointed out no, it wasn’t - I said my piece. But her apology tour was ... lacking. She’s been sending funny memes and trying to engage me in frivolous conversation about her children, which I’m normally down with, but I just don’t feel it right now. (I really will get over it, and I love the idea whether I am a co-founder or just a trained monkey, but you know how things sting sometimes and you need time to feel the feelings. It’s not going to drag on for a decade but it’s not going to be immediate.)
My coworker who is ... my favorite, but also the one I bitch about ... is ... worse. (I genuinely believe he has some mental health needs that aren’t being met and I’m trying to be supportive/sympathetic, but I also still need to work.) He’s been doing this thing where he complains about how much work he has to do but won’t release any responsibility so someone else can help. Or he’ll pepper you with URGENT emails that don’t include enough info, but hasn’t responded to any emails asking him for info ... in over a semester? We were trying to do this giant project and he wouldn’t give me any details or contact info for people who could settle the details (so he could be IN CHARGE) but then he wasn’t doing anything or telling me where I needed to be/what I needed to do so I could plan my life. And it is falling apart, which is a shame. He’s mad he’s losing this opportunity but like ... I can’t put my whole life on hold for your MYSTERY PROJECT which you are slapping together haphazardly because your communication skills suck.
A few days ago, he interrupted me no fewer than seven times while I tried to complete a time-sensitive project. At one point, he even said, “I’m interrupting you, you’re busy,” and then continued to sit in my office and talk to the back of my head while I tried to work. Later that day, he insisted we have a meeting, and then ... didn’t come. I waited twenty minutes, then decided to leave the building to cool off. I found him in the parking lot making casual conversation with another colleague. I left, and he started a text message faux-pology tour, where he kept reaching out with questions that were suddenly very pressing. I did tell him that I didn’t appreciate being made to wait, and he did apologize for being “inconsiderate.” But in that glib way that only charismatic dudes can pull off, where you can tell he’s not that sorry and it’ll happen again when you blink.
I told him again that I didn’t appreciate it, but I’d live. (I will get over it. I will not get over it immediately. I just need space to have a feeling for its duration and him being in my face is slowing down the process. This is ... within the bounds of normal, as I understand it.) He has all of the sudden started ... requesting emails and responding to emails and generally being responsible for himself. I know it’s part of his “please forgive me” shindig, but to me, it reads like HE HAS KNOWN HE WAS BEING UNPROFESSIONAL AND ANNOYING THIS WHOLE TIME AND HE IS ONLY FIXING IT SO I WON’T BE MAD ANYMORE. And it is having the opposite of its intended effect. I want to scream. Or identify it, but I know that’ll just make another conflict.
I also (immaturely) want to never, ever speak to him again because I am just so irritated and he won’t just leave me be, but like ... that’s not really an option.
I can’t tell how much of this is office norms, how much of this is being musicians are socially stunted, and how much of this is because academia is fucking ridiculous. Or how much is that I will just never be good at dealing with conflict unless someone screams, because that’s all I understand.
And I can’t vent to my husband because they’re his coworkers, too, and he’s drowning in similar b.s. So here we are, GT. Stuff is dumb. People are being lousy. AND I HAVE A CRANKY.