In order to improve my “interpersonal skills” at work, I decided to take a Human Relations course. Though this class is not required in order to graduate from the Human Resources Management program, I thought it might help me have a more objective perspective if I ever can get back to working again, and teaches some interesting leadership skills.
Despite being unsually organized, the class was going ok, until our first group project. Now, some of you may shudder when I mention those two words, and I have definitely had some bad experiences in the past working with other students. This proved to be the case with one member in our group, who literally did NOTHING the entire time. Yes, he was one of those lazy asshats who expected to be dragged around by his other team mates. Proddings from us and the teacher accomplished nothing, and when he would communicate, he would state excuses like being “Somewhere without wifi” or “Living in a central time zone”. I didn’t know this guy, and since this is an online course, just saw him as a name on a screen. But I really didn’t want to be seen as “bossy”, so I would send these sugary requests like:
“If you can, please contribute to this week’s assignment. It would be super awesome to hear from you.” Hell, I practically signed the messages with hugs and kisses in order to get this guy to play ball! However, days would go by and deadlines would loom closer, and nothing. It wasn’t until we organized a plan of attack without him, that we learned through the instructor that he dropped the class. Not cool.
Since then, a new person has joined our group, who I’m hoping will actually contribute and do their fair share, but it’s made me think about just how complicated human interactions can get and how easy it is to either be too people pleasing or flat-out, impatient, angry and rude. What’s even weirder is how both extremes can exist in the same person; I want people to like and accept me, but I have a very short BS -tolerance. I’ve known people who seemed to make the same mistakes over and over, always blaming others for their misery, or would make wildly insensitive comments and be shocked at the negative feedback. It was very frustrating, so I would badger and nag. What they were doing wasn’t working, so they SHOULD do this or that instead. Unfortunately, this didn’t work, so I tried a different, more sensitive approach, trying to understand their point of view. But this didn’t work either, they didn’t want to listen or admit their own mistakes, which to be fair, can be painful. They also held some pretty irrational and toxic opinions and thoughts, and it was really beyond my level of expertise to tell them how to change these thoughts. It was very hard to watch someone mess up their lives and relationships, but I realized that it’s their responsibility not mine. However, I set personal limits on how much time and energy I devoted to them, I wish them the best and hope they come around soon, but realize it’s out of my control. Or there were opposite times, where I was around more “Type A” personalities, who held strong, rigid opinions and I would blindly follow their advice or try endlessly to make them happy in their quest for control. Obviously, that didn’t work out too well either.
And I guess needing constant control is what “bossiness” boils down to. I’ve been called “bossy” before and it was never a compliment, and resented others for bossing me around as well. In fact, resistance to authority and control is one of the big markers of ADHD. I will even read into the “tone of voice” used in emails and complain about the sender. Basically I would take everything far too personally at work, instead of realizing the importance of listening effectively to get a job done. It took some personal reflection and medication, but at least I finally realized it. Of course, I’ve worked for some pretty terrible managers and supervisors who couldn’t organize a trip to an outhouse without actually insulting and screaming at people either, but those people don’t tend to retain staff for very long.
The best thing I’m learning in these professional development classes is that working with people is complicated, but it’s important that if you want to be in regular contact, to find a common goal. Managers have a tough gig, and I should try and help them out, which is why I was hired in the first place. Socially, unless I’m organizing an outing, I need to let go of the reins a bit. I’m not the boss of anyone, nor are they the boss of me. So we should all just lighten up and enjoy each others company.