How great do you have to be to have a job

Work is finished now thank God. I feel quite traumatized by this experience. Not quite. Very. Today I’ve spent a lot of time in bed, just trying to get bits of me back. This has been pretty much the worst work experience of my life, and i’ve had some bad ones. The disheartening aspect is that i’d thought I’d become so much more socially skilled, with all this therapy and reading, that I wouldn’t get into these situations anymore. But not so.

These last two weeks, the manager continued her silent treatment of me unabated. She sat right beside me, so I never seemed to get much of a break from it. I was excluded from all meetings, and had almost no work to do, so had to fill in eight hours, day after day, with my own stuff. Which may sound quite pleasant, but isn’t. You know you’re sitting there as a punishment, no one speaks to you, and it’s all pointless, just for this individual to show their power over you.

My social skills do disintegrate after a certain amount of this treatment. I feel in so much pain, I don’t really know how to respond to people or how to approach anyone. Things spiral downward.

Plus my sense of reality is attacked. I rack my brains for what has gone wrong, what I could have done. It must have been really bad, for them to act this way, as if I don’t exist.

A small bright spot was my fellow contractor who was also let go, a young man from an African country in one of his first contracts. I persisted in trying to get both of these contractors to go out for coffee with me, as a way to at least connect to someone. The one who wasn’t fired refused – he dropped me entirely during my two weeks, presumably not wanting to be tainted. But the other one came sometimes.

He was a bit better off than I was, because he did not sit right with the manager. As well, he had some work to do, and, he worked with the other contractor, doing the same things, so they naturally chatted throughout the day. To my eyes, he had the better deal here. But it was still rough on him. The manager treated him similarly, not speaking to him, speaking only to his co-worker.

So we walked around on breaks, laughing (a bit hysterically on my part), and talking about our work situation, but also I found out a bit about him and where he came from. On our last day, I left before him, and he actually accompanied me the few blocks to the subway to keep me company. I remember his big smile and warm goodbye as we parted. That was so nice.

I said goodbye to only one other co-worker, a nice BA who was also contract but for a different manager. She bought me a quick tea at Tim’s as a goodbye. Trying to make me feel better, she actually made me feel worse. She said not to worry, you’ll get back on your feet and put this behind you. Just a failure to connect.

Was it a failure to connect? For sure, the manager disliked me, but was it because I didn’t connect with her? This BA is self-confident and socially skilled, definitely more than I am. But is social self-confidence the thing that they pay me for at work?

I told her I actually didn’t see what I could have done differently. Which I don’t. It’s true that everyone who approaches this manager seems to do so in a very – oh how are you darling? is everything OK with you? kind of a way. Which I didn’t realize for the first week or two, and wouldn’t have been good at anyway.

Today I’m feeling like I have a complete lack of social skills. I do have trouble making friends. I think I am a good friend in terms of loyalty and honesty, but I don’t seem to appeal to people much so that we can become friends. Maybe the world is missing out.

I just need to recover slowly. Right now everything feels kind of strange – I haven’t assimilated this bad experience yet.

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14 comments
  1. Ashana M said:

    I suspect the manager felt something positive for you, then felt rejected by something and is trying to defeat a sense of humiliation at being rejected. Your situation reminds me vaguely of VP Maam, just because it felt so shocking to see she was lashing out intentionally to hurt me. I know one of the times this happened I was talking in an animated way to someone else as she walked towards us. She was jealous. How dare we enjoy a conversation without her? I distinctly remember the little flash of rage in her eyes. No, you can’t prevent it….

    • Ellen said:

      Your comment really made me think Ash. This may be similar. She was acting normally towards me for the first week and a half, telling me some things about her life. Then later, it was like she was directing a silent beam of hate my way. The way she looked at us when I took a break with her other contractor that she let go was so full of anger – as if by talking to each other, we were damaging her…I think she is the type who splits people into good and bad, and once you’re bad, there is no middle ground – she has to reject you completely.

      I like to think she liked me at first. I did edit her work at first, as I thought I was supposed to, and she could take that as criticism. So this fits.

      Thanks

  2. leb105 said:

    so sorry E. doesn’t sound like it was you at all! please figure out how you can screen for these wierd damaged people in positions of authority, during interviews! screen them OUT I mean!

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Laura. I’m thinking maybe I can really interview them more in future…maybe a question or two about what they would do in certain situations, how they would handle….I’ve always only asked about the project. And to pay more attention maybe as to whether I feel comfortable with them. I do have nerves in interviews so mostly I don’t feel comfortable, but there are degrees of discomfort.

      (Yes, screen them out. 🙂 ).

      Thanks

  3. Ugh. She sounds horrendous. And the whole situation sounds awful. No wonder you’re feeling wiped out. It’s an easy thing to say, but such a hard thing to do, but sometimes (mostly) there is neither rhyme nor reason to why people like that behave that way, so trying to work her out is likely a completely futile exercise. It sounds like your not feeding her narcissistic supplies made you pretty much useless to her, thus she blanked you. The ridiculous (and scary, when it’s a person in a position of power) is that it doesn’t sound like it had anything at all to do with the work. I just can’t deal with people like that, and like you, I can’t play that game. Plenty of people can – generally, they are just good workplace politicians and cope well with the complexities of f***ed up relationships in a way the rest of us can’t/won’t.
    Much healthier to be out of there. Though I do understand how it can shatter your confidence and your sense of yourself and your capabilities. I just came out of a very similar situation with a client. I understand it’s nothing to do with me or my work, and that she just plain doesn’t LIKE me (sounds different to yours – she seems to have just deemed you irrelevant because you’re not useful to her) but she bullied me relentlessly and really seemed to enjoy the process of making my life hell. I wish I had walked away earlier, but I am one of those people who gets pulled into frantically trying to FIX things and fulfil whatever nut-job ‘needs’ or demands they have, completely forgetting my own perspective and priorities, and ultimately blaming myself for ‘failing’ in a totally un-winnable situation.

    • Ellen said:

      I’m sorry you went through that Defrag. I too feel I was bullied and I was wondering too if I should have walked away earlier. I am pretty sure we weren’t at fault and these situations were ‘un-winable’, in my case especially once it had started. Maybe if I’d approached her in a different way, this wouldn’t have happened, but who knows. Thanks for commenting.

      • Yeah, but it’s human to give it time and make it right. But also smart to know your own limitations and triggers and accept there are some people you just can’t/shouldn’t work with. Doesn’t mean you don’t have a multitude of dif. Strengths. Plus, it can be really hard to read people right at the safety and things can be easily rationalised as ‘she’s having a bad day’ etc etc. just quit worrying about your part in it. Some of use take way too much responsibility for evey

  4. Hugs. Some bosses just unpleasant, it would be awesome if there was a way to pick out the nasties before working for them. I hope you get plenty of rest.

    • Ellen said:

      I actually think she was more than just unpleasant. I felt bullied and specifically targeted by her. She specifically tried (and succeeded at) isolating me and would not talk or look at me. It was pretty bad. She treated other people much differently.

  5. Hugs. I’m glad you connected with the African man. That must have really lifted your spirits. He sounded nice. xxx

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