Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On Negativity in the Workplace

I just had a very surprising experience. I was treated amazingly rudely by an educator.

No shit! You say. Happens all the time right?

Sure, as a student it does, but in my last three years working in education it hardly ever happens as a colleague.

I’ve been working on a big project that aims to bring together efforts from all different sectors at my place of work, and today we introduced the project as a first step and sought input for future directions.

I always expect some resistance when introducing changes to big processes like this one is, but I rarely encounter outright dismissal and condescension. Let alone from someone who stands to benefit in a very immediate way from the new system and seek to cater to during the early stages of the process.

It really got under my skin because of how disrespectful this person’s approach was.

It’s not just me blowing things out of proportion – which I’ll admit to doing on occasion. Other people commented, “oh he’s just that way” or “that group is a nightmare”.

So what do I do? Call out a senior colleague for being a jerk, or bust my hump more than it is to try to bring the “nightmare” to our side?

In  any large organization you find groups of people banding together around a common philosophy, and I notice it a lot where I work. Generally the philosophies are productive, focused doing the right thing for students or clients or customers. What makes me shake my head are the festering groups, seeping aggressive and counterproductive negativity. While it does make me really happy to know I’m not one of them it really sucks to have to work with them. It also really sucks to see the problems ignored because as they’ve festered they’ve also developed a reputation and their legitimate concerns are often ignored along with the griping.

So if I know you and you notice me behaving in this way please, please, please, punch me in the face. Then get me a scotch, but not before reminding me of this post.

Also, if you are this person: Dude, 'cmon. All I want to do is help you. All I ask is you keep an open mind and treat me with the same respect you expect for yourself.
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