Saturday, January 29, 2011

Diplomacy

Where have you been?

Launching an intranet in a new job. Complicated, but not impossible. Just not the kind of thing where I want to come home and spend more time on a computer.

Isn't that what you've always done? So write about intranets.

Who'd want to read it?

That's stopped you, previously?

Point taken.

Write about something that sticks in your head.

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Just the one thing tonight, something dropped by Rick (aka the DI) a long time ago when I was talking about holding a grudge. "That's one hell of a long tail to drag around waiting for somebody to step on, my friend."

Indeed. I was having lunch with Walter, a co-worker from a past job. He was looking to start a fight with somebody we'd both worked with in the past and I wouldn't take the bait. The somebody in question wasn't in that pub with us having a second pint of Stella, and I didn't feel like stabbing him in the back when his back was already just something to be glimpsed in a rear-view mirror.

"I think you could have been treated better," said Walter, "whether it's because you didn't stand up for yourself or if you were being screwed, I don't know. But you're smart. People appear to like you, damned if I know why. So you were screwed. Why not admit you were screwed and let him hav it, it's not like you're going to lose anything."

It wouldn't gain anything, either; I don't buy into somebody else's low-level discontent, even when it's skewed in my direction (Walter's a decent guy and his concern was genuine). I finally told him this: I answered to two managers that past job, at different times in different departments. On two occasions, there was a sudden death in my family. The first manager literally said "Go home. Call us when it's settled, take your time. I'm sorry for your loss."

The second manager was no less concerned on a personal level, but ran by the book. I told him about the death and he said "Do you know when the funeral is? Are you going to be heading out of town? You might want to call Richard to see if he can watch things for you. And maybe Carol on the West coast. Will it be more than two days? I think we can arrange something. Will you be gone tomorrow, or is the funeral later this week? I've got your mobile number and look forward to seeing you on Thursday, of course if something comes up I'm..."

Neither party was unsympathetic. Both acted within the confines of the terms and conditions of that job. Both offered a professional response. I simply know which one I appreciated more, which one made the experience easier for me. I won't praise one or call the other callous because it doesn't matter; it was two interpretations of the rules. For that matter, I won't absolve the one that didn't help as much simply because he was following orders, I just won't blame him for it. One approach made an already tense situation more tense. The other made it easier. Full stop. I can't change my response but it isn't worth complaining since we all knew the rules when we walked in.

Walter wanted a complaint voiced, processed and buried, but it wouldn't help. Not now. For me, its nothing more than a situation that was handled differently by two people. And, in every sense, it is over and done.

3 comments:

STAG said...

Don't think I understand your beef here guy.

But, sorry about your loss.

Derbecker said...

I didn't have a beef- Walter was trying to get me to say that one approach was right, one was wrong. It doesn't quite work out that way, especially when it's long time gone.

And incidentally...happy new year to you as well :)

Patti said...

Good for you, if I may say so.

I like the "long tail" comment - I'm gonna use that, I think.

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