Saturday, February 26, 2011

case in point

Rant ahead.  you've been warned.

See, this is exactly what I'm talking about.  I'm involved in a project right now in which I am the new person on the team.  For some silly reason, I assumed that we're all equals (we're all volunteers, no one is getting paid), so when it came time to decide what direction we're going, I stated my opinion.  I made it clear I was willing to do whatever the team decided, but I said what I thought we should do.  They decided to go with another guy's idea, which is fine.  I've been in this situation at work before, and I know from experience that I will be fine with this, and I will work just as hard for his idea as I would have for mine.

But it turns out that I managed to offend this guy, the one who's idea we're using.  I guess I didn't pussyfoot enough.  I didn't add in enough groveling qualifiers when I stated my opinion.  I thought we were adults here, I thought I could state my opinion, which was clearly labeled as my opinion, without having to add a bunch of bogus crap like "This is probably a dumb idea, but I think we should..." or "You all know way more about this than I do, but maybe we should consider..." 

That kind of stuff just doesn't occur to me.  We're having a team discussion, why can't I just say what I think?  But somehow, entirely without meaning to do it, I come across as domineering.  I really don't get this, because that is not AT ALL what my intent was.  I thought I was saying what I thought.

One of my favorite moments in all of the genre fiction I've ever read is in Mr. Impossible.  The heroine is a total brainiac, but it's Victorian England, so she has to pretend to be dumb and get her brother to present all her ideas so that people won't think she's smart.  The hero finally figures this out, and also figures out that all these years, she's had to squash herself in order to be socially acceptable.  So there's this moment where he tells her something to the effect of, "You're not too strong for me.  I'm not intimidated by you."  It completely melted me.  That's how I feel-- not that I'm such a genius (she spoke something like six languages and was a scholar in Ancient Egyptian what-have-you)(I'm proving my intelligence here by using technical terms like "what-have-you")-- but I feel like I have to sit on myself all the time just so that I can be acceptable.

Ha.  You wondered where the dilemma I've been discussing recently came from.  Actually, I was, too. :-)  I guess now we know.  There's got to be a happy medium here somewhere, but it appears that I haven't found it yet.


  1. Oh that kind of childish crap really irritates me too. I don't play immature head games, we ARE adults. I don't know the situation, but I'm with you on this one. You shouldn't have to drop down to their level. But then, that's just my opinion.
    p.s. I forgot to add, when I just replied (again) to yesterday's post, that yes, THAT Becky.

  2. well, after talking to the guy, this turned out not to be as big a deal as I thought. There is a small, outside chance that a teeny part of my personality type is also "making mountains out of molehills." ha.

    So we talked it out and things are OK. I probably should have toned it down anyway since I'm new to the team. I thought about deleting this since it turned out to be almost a non-issue, but I haven't typed a rant in a long time, and it felt good. So I'm leaving it there.

  3. Yes! It got better and you still left the post up. Nicely done. On all fronts.

  4. fortunately I didn't ever rant at him-- just this post. One of the best reasons to have a blog.

    Becky doesn't have an e-mail address listed, so if you're reading, Fibrobabe, I'm adding your blog to my blogroll, and let me know if you don't want it there.

  5. hmmm, well, we had another meeting yesterday and the rant may not have been as undeserved as I thought in that last comment. (didja follow that?) It's still OK. But if he asks me to make coffee, I'm gone.