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HillnDale
Mar. 30, 2013, 07:21 PM
If people around you respect you, why do you think that is?

If there are people in your life you don't respect, why don't you and are those things those people could realistically change?

And most importantly, can you tell me what I'm doing wrong?? :confused:

I find myself at a new job working with many who are much younger than I am. Most of the people are reasonably nice but I still find myself struggling to feel confident or even comfortable in my interactions at work. There is a little alpha-mean-girl stuff going on, although it's not terrible and in general I don't feel well heard or respected. It's starting to feel a little high school and I'm too old to get caught up in those dynamics. I feel like even if I'm the new person I should be able influence the tone of my interactions there.

Like many horse women, I'm very sensitive and overall, more comfortable with animals than people. My own impulses at work are to like people until they give me reasons not to, be friendly but reserved, and help out with whatever needs doing that I know how to do.

You would think that would be enough but I often feel out of step at work and in social settings.

I guess what's bothering me most is one person in particular (though others do versions of this) regularly comes up to whomever I'm speaking with and stands almost directly in front of me and talks to the other person like I'm not there. She will interrupt me without batting an eye and will carry on with the other person for over a minute without casting a glance my way. If I jump in confidently and say something relevant or helpful it's well enough received but the behavior still continues.

I finally lost it last night and said something to someone else about it - that it was driving me crazy and I was thinking about saying something to this young woman. I wasn't sure if I was overreacting so I wanted to get this person's perspective on it. At first she didn't get that I was serious and then said, laughing, "Yeah, she does that to so-and-so too. It's not personal." I'm not sure what that means in this context. I realize she isn't intentionally hostile towards me, but I mean, of course it's personal. This happens probably ten times a day and I've now been working there over a month. It's obnoxious. If my horse pushed me aside to nip at his friend I would know exactly how to respond, but you know, she's my coworker, not my horse.

In my intellectual and introverted way, I've recently read up on making friends, getting respect, influencing people etc., etc. No help there. Virtually all the advice is to do what I already do: be helpful and ask for help, take personal interest, learn names, make eye contact, complement specifically. The alternative seems to be the Machiavellian response of fear and intimidation, although that's all pretty limited and widely criticized. However, after watching people who are successful and popular I notice that relatively few of them are very emotionally evolved or even very nice. Once in a while I come across someone who is what I would call "magnanimous" - influential by being kind, generous and encouraging of others. However, those people are still quick to anger and physically impressive in some way.

I worry a lot about being incompetent and while I'm not the best at this job, I'm not the worst and I do bring a lot to the table. I wish I could just be a rock star with the work, but I know that's not the only solution to this problem.

Do I need to go back to groundwork? Try a different bit? I don't get it.

Superminion
Mar. 30, 2013, 07:50 PM
It's like riding to the base of a fence... if you think "oh crap, oh crap" your horse isn't going to feel very confident about taking you over it, right? You'll probably get a stop or a run out.

BUT.

If you ride to that fence knowing you can get over it no problem, usually you're fine!

So go in there, strut your stuff, tell yourself that you CAN get over that fence (and you CAN do it in a way that will make GM proud ;) ), and I bet you'll have a flawless round.

I wouldn't worry yourself too much with politics or office drama or making friends with the alpha mares (they usually have ulcers anyways, from keeping the herd in line). Go, do your job to the best of your ability (which you WILL rock), and go home happy happy happy!

It's all about confidence. Wear clothes that make you feel good about yourself, stand up straight, and keep your eye on your goal. Not anybody else's. Give yourself pep talks in the form of post-its on your mirror, steering wheel, wherever. I'm also a big fan of 'fake it 'till you make it' most days. :yes:

You go girl!

CiegoStar
Mar. 30, 2013, 07:54 PM
I feel you.

Here's the thing: There are assholes in the world. You can't change their behavior. You can only change your reaction to them. You need to assert yourself a little bit more when you're feeling ignored. Next time the mean girl interrupts your conversation and ignores you, speak up. "Excuse me, MG, we're just wrapping up. It'll just be a minute."

Will she like you? Probably not ever. DON'T SWEAT IT. There are assholes in the world and you can't change them. You can only change your reaction to them. Repeat this over and over. And good luck!

cranky
Mar. 30, 2013, 08:14 PM
There is someone in my office who does this interrupting thing. She will hijack any conversation she comes across. Someone in my group in particular seemed to get the brunt of this the most and she finally took the woman aside and explained to her what she was doing. She explained in a very unemotional, rational way. The offender was actually horrified when called out on it, I think she honestly didn't realize that she was doing it (or didn't realize how bad it was). Things did seem to get better after the conversation and these two women seem to now have a decent work relationship.

From my own experiences, I think (as someone said above) you have to be confident. You're new, so you may still be an unknown entity to some of the people in your group. Keep doing what you're doing, speak up in meetings, ask for help when you don't know something, speak your opinion ... be confident, but humble (you don't want to come across like a bull in a china shop). Your rep will build as people get to know you and as you progress with your team. It doesn't necessarily happen overnight. Try to stay away from gossip and work drama as much as possible too.

alterhorse
Mar. 30, 2013, 08:41 PM
I like all of the other posters points of view, this is what came to my mind...

The best think I can think might be for you to focus more on what you're feeling about these things, and not try to pick things apart and look at the pieces analytically.

Intellectual introverts have a way of getting so lost in the details, that they forget to listen to the message of what their emotion are telling them.

Emotions don't speek in complex terminologies. Emotions are very simple messages, like I'm sad, I'm angry, I'm happy, I'm afraid, I'm lonely, I trust, I'm supprized, etc...

I think the key is to be able to clear your mind of all that confuses you, and simply ask yourself, "what am I feeling about this".

Then just become aware of the emotion that rises to the surface for you when you ask yourself this question.

Once you have a clear awareness of the emotion, let yourself feel it deeply, and encourage what ever is underling it to rise into your awareness.

You'll usually find that it's something that's very straightforward, and the connection to the emotion should hopefully become evident.

Some people are able to work on resolving some types of issues on their own, some require the help of a compassionate caring friend, or sometimes a psychotherapist.

It depends completely on what the issue is, and how well the given individual is equipped to resolve it.

But discovering the issue is the key, because you can't work on it, if you are not aware of what it is. If the issue is something that causes you a lot of distress, or interferes with your work, it might be eisier to elist the help of a psychotherapist to help you get to the bottom of it, so you can begin to feel better. :)

Canaqua
Mar. 30, 2013, 08:52 PM
You are a very observant person...not surprising for a true introvert ;). The way you describe those who seem to get respect is very insightful. They are people with a physical presence and some emotional detachment. That's pretty much the name of the game at work, in my experience.

I don't know what to tell you on how to achieve physical presence and emotional detachment. I've long been good at both..and, yes, I do get respect at work and am able to influence without authority. I'm friendly and "magnanimous" (good word!), and "nice" enough, but too often "nice" means doormat and I don't do that gig.

It's all a confidence game. I can't describe what I do, other than stand up straight, walk fast, look people in the eye, talk straight and reserve judgment on everyone I meet until they prove themselves worthy of trust and respect. Be polite and friendly to everyone, never ever "kiss ass", don't get emotionally involved with work stuff...it's just work, not who you are.

Don't be afraid to just walk away if people are having a silly conversation, or someone is being rude, outside of a formal meeting. I've turned on my heel and said, "Gotta go...busy" sooooo many times when someone tried to trap me in some stupid thing in the hallways with people playing one upsmanship games and jockeying for position. Not playing the game makes you "scary" right away.

I'm an introvert too and the REAL introvert advantage is not really caring what anyone else thinks of you, but wanting to please yourself with what you do and say. It's a HUGE advantage, really. It's what allows us to be independent thinkers and happy, regardless of what's going on around us. Introver does not equal "shy", despite popular misconceptions.

Rackonteur
Mar. 30, 2013, 09:22 PM
I think alterhorse has just answered a question I posted on another thread ...

Good advice for both threads.

I was going to ask the OP if the rude woman interrupts when you are discussing work, or when you are discussing nonwork things.

My own tendency is to get really annoyed, do nothing, and just walk away, maybe figuring that if the person I was originally talking with values what I had to say, he or she will come after me to continue the conversation. If they don't, their loss. That might be OK in a social chat situation. But if you're discussing work, and the other person interrupts, I might try to emotionally push her out of the way (NOT physically!) and try to continue the discussion.

Or I might just turn and walk away. I too am an introvert and not that skilled in playing office politics with ill-mannered boors.

mojo7777
Mar. 30, 2013, 09:53 PM
You should check this out.

http://www.ted.com/speakers/amy_cuddy.html

It's a TED talk. Really excellent and did a lot for me.

vacation1
Mar. 30, 2013, 11:10 PM
I guess what's bothering me most is one person in particular (though others do versions of this) regularly comes up to whomever I'm speaking with and stands almost directly in front of me and talks to the other person like I'm not there. She will interrupt me without batting an eye and will carry on with the other person for over a minute without casting a glance my way. If I jump in confidently and say something relevant or helpful it's well enough received but the behavior still continues. I finally lost it last night and said something to someone else about it - that it was driving me crazy and I was thinking about saying something to this young woman. I wasn't sure if I was overreacting so I wanted to get this person's perspective on it. At first she didn't get that I was serious and then said, laughing, "Yeah, she does that to so-and-so too. It's not personal." I'm not sure what that means in this context.

She means it's not happening to her, just to you and to someone else she finds worthless. What you have is a bully. Workplace bullies don't last long without backup from either management or their coworkers. If the bully is a key salesperson or management star, their strength probably comes from the bosses. If the bully is a just a typical desk jockey flunky, she's probably feeding off the support of a workplace wolfpack. Choose your confidants very carefully; complaining about one bully to one of her groupies is worse than ineffective, it's just making the problem worse by feeding her information. Most direct, honest way to handle bully? Simply tell her to wait until you're finished, and put your back to her the next time she interrupts. But she's probably going to have some more tricks. Keep an eye on her.


In my intellectual and introverted way, I've recently read up on making friends, getting respect, influencing people etc., etc. No help there. Virtually all the advice is to do what I already do: be helpful and ask for help, take personal interest, learn names, make eye contact, complement specifically. The alternative seems to be the Machiavellian response of fear and intimidation, although that's all pretty limited and widely criticized. However, after watching people who are successful and popular I notice that relatively few of them are very emotionally evolved or even very nice. Once in a while I come across someone who is what I would call "magnanimous" - influential by being kind, generous and encouraging of others. However, those people are still quick to anger and physically impressive in some way.

If you're very ambitious and want to be a VP at a multinational company, you're probably going to have to deal with bad actors in management. But if you're just trying to rise through the ranks at a typical smaller company, not looking to set the whole world on fire, you can find management types who are decent people and not assholes. You just need to find the right company.


Most important thing to remember about work? Always lie. Everyone else is. That also goes for every book, every internet article, every magazine. Take all advice (mine included, but obviously, I think I'm being both accurate and unusually honest :)) with a salt mine. Work is a Broadway play, and we're all trying to steal the best lines, hog the spotlight and grease the stairs so the diva falls on her ass and lands us the big role.

HillnDale
Apr. 1, 2013, 03:38 AM
Oh my gosh, you guys are so sweet Thanks for the insight and tips. Very helpful.

This got a bit long but I couldn't decide what to edit so I leave the skimming to you!

As for the interrupting woman (IW) she interrupts regardless of the topic. It actually happens so quickly and forcefully she wouldn't have a clue what I was talking about and I've even tried to just keep talking over here (since she's talking over me) and I swear to god she just keeps going! That's when I lost it. That's also the time I was ready and willing to say something to her about it, but couldn't figure out quite how to do it since she had her back to me, was talking loudly, and had the attention of the other person. I would have had to poke her or physically push on her shoulder and then yell. Not really workable as we are in front of customers and she really isn't trying to be mean. I agree she is boorish and I agree she doesn't respect me but she's not intentionally bullying me. She is the top sales person at this place by far so she feels pretty good about herself at work and is high on her sell!sell!sell! adrenaline whenever this happens. I don't do what she does and I don't really care about any of it, so ...that's where I'm coming from. I'm not competing with her and I'm definitely not over here trying to climb any corporate ladders or anything.

If I do ever get professionally ambitious it will be with writing or going into business for myself. Right now I'm just happy to be occupied with something stimulating but low stress. Oh, and my bosses are actually really great which is a breath of fresh air.

I did make an effort to go in looking sharp and feeling confident last time and it really did help! It sucks that I sometimes don't feel great physically and then that negatively affects everything else. I LOVED the Ted talk, mojo7777, and read a linked article by Amy Cuddy as well. It was a little freaky that her example of the least powerful pose is something I do. Like precisely. I do it in response to physical pain in my neck and shoulder, but I guess I need to rethink that :) http://susiesheartpathblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/low-power-poses.png?w=300

Also a little freaky that I was recently told that a lot of (not all) my headaches and back pain are coming from terrible posture. Probably ingrained from a lifetime of hauling books around, studying and trying to blend into the background. Maybe I acted depressed until I became depressed :eek::no: Some of it is also "conformational." It's not as easy a fix as you might think, but holding myself up and open at work is.

http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Profile%20Files/cuddy_poptech_f25e22ed-70e3-43a5-955e-8f0f58dd187f.jpg

I'm a little uncomfortable with the whole "act powerful and take up space" thing as I'm generally annoyed by those people and feel a little inauthentic acting, well, inauthentically. But of course I don't want to feel powerless and weeny. I just need to fake the powerful version of myself, not do an impersonation of Donald Trump.

Alterhorse, you are very right about emotions! I get extra robotic and intellectual in the work place since when I acknowledge my feelings I sometimes get overwhelmed by them. Like here's what happened in my head:"Hey, I'm really tripping on IW right now. I'm thinking of ways to solve this and playing it over and over in my head. Why am I so bothered? What am I really feeling here? Hmm, I feel powerless and invisible. I don't feel heard or validated which is my big issue from childhood. OMG I FEEL POWERLESS AND INVISIBLE!!!! :eek::eek::eek::eek::eek: I AM SO UPSET!!!! :cry::cry::cry::cry::cry:" And then I can't really do anything effectively. But that was the moment I was able to identify what I was truly bothered by. And I have since been able to reflect that while I acting like I was worried that IW didn't like me, I was actually avoiding the uncomfortable possibility that I do not like her. Which is a little error I make a lot. I'm really trying to get better at letting myself not like certain people. I find it very hard.

Canaqua, I think you gave really spot on advice. Especially useful was the encouragement to not get caught up in silly conversations. As an introvert I struggle to care about those little conversations and it's bothered me in the past when I miss out on the camaraderie thing because I'm focused on, erm, work-ing. I've made a point to give the whole social nicety thing a chance. We spend a lot of our lives at work so I'm not sure I'm comfortable with it "just being work" but I guess that's just the breaks. Anyway, I love your perspective of introversion being an advantage. Although I do worry about what other people think, let's face it, not enough to do anything about it unless it's keeping me from getting something :)

I can see how this "Not playing the game makes you "scary" right away" would be true and very useful for me! I'm definitely going to try just walking away when the conversation gets irrelevant or silly. I'm actually excited about it! :lol:

Vacation1, I think I've been there enough weeks doing a good enough job that I feel ok about cutting back in over IW and telling her to cool her jets. I probably won't even be bothered I did it at the time. It's the hours of obsessing and lost sleep later that get me :lol::lol::lol: But I do have a therapist and for the first time my primary focus there is on anxiety and the secondary focus on depression. I think that's the correct order at this point. I agree what you say about lying, sadly. I think the difference between ordinary drones and the real cut throat go getters is the former aren't really aware they are lying and the latter are quite pleased with themselves. I don't want to be either, but I studied primates in college and I can assure you, everyone of normal intelligence lies. ;)

volvo_240
Apr. 1, 2013, 07:00 AM
Fake it till you make it with the confidence. Be the 'calm leader' type Caeser Milan style ( he's a jackass but its the best example I can think of, and if you are used to working with animals it may make something 'click' for you).

Avoid it- if she interupts you like this, just walk away. If you aren't in competition with her in any wsy just ignore her until you are prepared to confront her in a confident and unemotional way. Don't forget that she probably has no clue she is making you upset, so it isn't really fair to be upset with her. In fact by talking about her to a co-worker, don't you think you are feeding into the drama a bit? I realize it's unintentional but as someone with a few similar tendencies as this co-worker I would feel bad but also be pretty pissed off to hear about an issue through the office grapevine. You can't expect her to read your mind.

FineAlready
Apr. 1, 2013, 10:23 AM
So, I'm an attorney. There is a lot of competition and contention within my field, as you might guess. What I've found is that people respect a person who is direct, consistent, calm, and rational even in the face of chaos.

If I were in your situation and someone was rudely stepping in front of me to butt into a conversation, I would direclty and politely say (probably while gently moving her aside), "We were just in the middle of talking here; please give us a minute to finish up."

I think you might be over thinking things a bit. Just say what you mean, be kind, be rational, and be direct. I really don't spend a lot of time thinking about how others view my posture and things like that - I think the posture and presence stuff comes from true confidence, which will develop over time. The other thing to remember is that people won't automatically respect you - it takes time. If you remain consistent, fair, and direct, people will usually come around to respect you.

Lady Eboshi
Apr. 1, 2013, 01:20 PM
Just like poorly socialized horses, there are lots of poorly socialized PEOPLE out there, more so than ever now that adolescence seems to extend to age 35! What your Interruptus needs is to be taught boundaries. So, just like you wouldn't tolerate a horse barging into your space, don't let her make YOUR feet move! Look her dead in the eyes and say, "Excuse me, Thus'no-so, I'll be with you in one minute." Or equally effective words to that effect. IOW, let her know that what she just did is NOT acceptable. You may have to repeat this X-times.

I've been in an office like yours, and the biggest thing to remember is that it is NOT high school. You are not there to "be their best friend," you're there to get the work out--case closed. Not socializing--productivity. Plus, being older you're not going to become a member of their "peer group" anyway, so don't try.

I think you're just experiencing "new horse in the herd" syndrome. They're trying to push to see where you fit in the pecking order. So push BACK and let them know where the line is drawn!

The way to become Alpha Mare is to keep your focus on the goals of the business, and not get involved in any of the employees' dramas.