Thursday, February 8, 2007

Criticism, Gossip and Life Lessons

I have a coworker who is hyper-critical. I can't possibly do anything right. My first week in the office, we spent a lot of time together because I was to take over her job so she could move to another position and she was training me. The second week, she mostly ignored me. I just thought it was because she had a lot of catching up to do, she'd been doing the work of two people for about a month. My third week, the griping set in. Over the next few weeks, we got into several arguments because I don't do things exactly the way she thinks I should. Eventually, she stopped speaking to me. Our boss really believes in communication and that we should each know what the other is doing. About a month and a half after I started, I realized we weren't communicating very well at all, so I started keeping a log of what I do and emailing it to her at the end of the day. Her response: none unless I made a mistake. It got so frustrating that I sent several really sarcastic emails the other day. Not good, but despite hubby's concern that they might get me fired, I really doubt my boss will ever know of them. If she said anything about them, she would have to admit that she is blatantly ignoring me.

Recently, I started talking with the receptionist and learned that the attitude is very typical of my coworker. I know, I shouldn't talk about people behind their back. On the other hand, it really helps to know that I'm not a special target. The more I think about the situation, the more I've learned that criticism, particularly the way it is delivered, says more about the critic than the target. Wow. It's not about me, it's about her. Does this mean I'm automatically immune and will never again be bothered by this person? Not at all. But it does give me something to focus on other than how I'm going to get anything positive out of her. And that makes a big difference.

I read a post from the World Wanting Peace blog about allowing someone else to rent space in one's head for free. That's exactly what I've been doing for my coworker for the past three months. It's time for an eviction.

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