In my first job after grad school, I worked in a laboratory. We did testing of water samples, analysis of tissues from game animals, disease diagnosis. Lots of different activities and specialties. Depending on the season, probably 10-12 people worked there. Mostly women. It’s a funny thing about labs – it’s a profession that attracts women. So, this was not only my first real, career-type job, it was also my first experience working day-in and day-out with a bunch of women.
Now, I love my gender, but I suspect that what I say here won’t come as much of a surprise.
Women can be a pain to work with. Especially to other women. There’s an unfortunate cattiness that comes out. An eternal jockeying for attention and one-upsmanship. If you’ve never experienced this, you are blessed indeed. If you have, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
A couple of the other gals complained about me. I got called in to see the lab manager. He said I spent too much time walking around with a cup of water in my hand. (Going back and forth to the water cooler.) He said I didn’t look busy enough. When I pointed out that I analyzed more samples than anyone else in the lab each day, he said that didn’t matter. What mattered was how busy I looked.
Yeah, he was a terrible manager. That didn’t help.
But, what I discovered over time was, that it didn’t really matter what I said or did. The key to resolving the issues lay in finding ways to get along with these gals. Which I eventually figured out. (After months and months of awfulness, but that’s neither here nor there.) It was a valuable learning experience.
A few years back, I served on the board of a writers organization. One of the women on the board continually fell into “misunderstandings” and all out wars with other members of the organization. We hear about this kind of thing going on in various chapters. The thing about this gal was, despite being a middle-aged woman, she’d never worked in a corporate environment. She just couldn’t see the value of giving ground on something she believed to be True and Right, in favor of getting along with other people.
The thing of it is, and I know it isn’t fair, the burden truly falls on us to deal with difficult people. Because we can’t make them stop being difficult. All us reasonable types can do is find ways to minimize the damage they can do. They may be the landmines, but the adept person finds the ways to avoid setting them off.
Another acquired skill.
Anyone got a good story for how they dealt with a difficult person?