I’ve been having work issues and work anxiety. Depression is down to manageable crankiness once again, and I am up and about. Anxiety is uppermost now. I’m going to try and write it out as best I can. This might be horribly boring if you are not interested in office jobs.
First of all, as a contractor, I’m vulnerable to being let go whenever the mood strikes someone higher up. It’s happened to me before, and it wasn’t a fun experience. Contractors don’t get ‘feedback’ or talks with a manager when some aspect of job performance isn’t good. We just get bumped. That’s a cause of anxiety right there – my livelihood can be at risk.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my actual work. I’m fast, accurate, and I don’t stew over projects – I can churn them out without much trouble. I also can take charge of my own projects, calling meetings, handling reviews, getting manager input if needed.
What I run into is people problems – not fitting in, saying awkward things, getting people’s backs up on occasion.
The latest trouble is with the new boss / client. He’s not a bad guy. He’s fairly open, friendly, and with years of manager experience, though none with documentation, which is his new role.
Just – we’re clashing. Somewhat. It’s making me uneasy. I’ve apologized once, I’m trying to monitor my behaviour, but under stress, it’s not working well.
He has inserted himself into all my projects and all my meetings. This means, in addition to dealing with the client who I’m trying to assist, I have this boss, with his free-wheeling comments, to consider. He has no experience with this type of work. I know he’s learning fast. Just, he is not helpful at present.
Yesterday for instance I had two meetings. The first was lovely – it’s a well run project, the client is not neurotic about the project, everything is working pretty well. So it was fine having the boss, J., there. We were both professional and on the same team.
Then meeting two. Yuck. A project I’ve been on for months, before J. came along. It hit a roadblock. We had a meeting, discussing where this project should go. This meeting was kind of chaotic, with the main client basically having major anxiety about the project and wanting to re-do the entire thing. Which it didn’t need, she just needed reassuring. Then J starts making one silly suggestion after another, while I’m trying to deal with the client who is having the anxiety attack. And I firmly dismiss his suggestion, saying I don’t think that’s what I should do. I know it’s a waste of time (I don’t say this part). The fact is, I should have tact here, and I don’t. Really, if I just said nothing much, and let everything stay chaotic for a while, I think they’d all get tired of it and let me fix it.
The meeting ended. I left, it being end of day, and everyone else remained seated. I assumed they had something else to discuss. Me not being full time, I’m often not included in various matters.
Of course afterwards, I worried about what they wanted to discuss. Today I had anxiety all day about losing my job, about trying to do better getting along with J.
There’s an element in my struggles with him of a defiant teenager, exasperated at a parents’ slowness and wrong-headedness. That exasperation kicks in for me under stress. It’s great I’m aware of it, but awareness is not enough because it’s so automatic. In the moment where it’s triggered, I just want to fight and prove him wrong.
The fact that he is wrong is kind of beside the point. That would become clear anyway. But if I start arguing with him, especially in front of others, that is what is noticed and remarked on.
I feel if I had more practice dealing with him, I’d eventually get a grip on this whole thing. We have a meeting once or twice a week though, and they’re not always difficult, so it is not enough for me to practice.
I was thinking what would help is if he discussed with me ahead of time what he is wanting to get across for a particular project, I could back him up, and not be surprised. I’m not sure he thinks it through ahead of time though.
I work for a large conservative corporation, and the culture is fairly hierarchical. For most, it seems like second nature to not question their manager. If they disagree, they do so quietly, or perhaps with colleagues privately. So my way of saying what I think is not normal there.
My meetings are working meetings. So I have to produce based on what is discussed. So if it’s unclear, it affects me most directly. The others are not trying to produce anything. So I do have a reason for wanting things clear, so I know what to do.
Phew. I’m trying to think of other things. There’s nothing much I can do about this boss. We don’t meet much on our own, so there’s not much room for discussion of what he’s expecting.
With my last boss, I ran with projects on my own more. Or I had some where she was the client, so I worked with her on that basis. I haven’t had a boss sitting in on all my working meetings before, and it’s proving a difficult experience.
It could be I’m worrying about nothing much. Or it could be a big deal. It’s really hard for me to tell, as I am prone to anxiety. I’m sure it’s a problem actually, because by the time I think there’s an issue, it’s already a pretty big issue. But it could be it’ll work itself out. I’m certainly willing to work on it.
I sent an email today to the client asking her if she wants to tackle a specific issue J’s way, and copied J. This will just delay things, but I want to show I’m taking J seriously. Now she hasn’t replied, so I don’t know what to do at this point.
Sometimes with anxiety, it’s an endless spiral, and trying to fix it gets you sucked in ever deeper.