Monday, July 13, 2015

Dealing with people

So, someone I do volunteer work with - let's call her Gina, not her real name - called last night. As she was calling obnoxiously late (IMHO; I get up crazy early and teach an 8 am class so I go to bed very early. Most of the people who actually care about me know this and don't call after 9 pm), I let voice mail take it.

I thought it was going to be letting me know details of the funeral of a mutual acquaintance (I can't go, teaching) but it was an "I need to meet with you" call.

Frack. Gina's upset about something. Gina's frequently upset about something. She calls me up - because I am the head of one of the subcommittees - and talks at me. And I just sit there and listen and tell myself that she doesn't get listened to at home which is why she does this. (We will leave aside the matter of the fact that I have v. few people to listen to ME.)

Anyway. Gina is one of those people I find working with fraught and stressful because some people, you know, what they say isn't really totally what they mean?

An example: a long time back, Gina said, "I don't want a leadership role in the group next year." And I was like, "Duly noted, okay" and didn't suggest to her she take one. Well, then I heard from ANOTHER person (let's call her Petunia) that Gina was upset because I didn't ask her for a leadership role. And I was like, "BUT SHE SAID SHE DIDN'T WANT ONE."

Apparently she's the kind of person who needs to be "stroked" by feeling "needed" for stuff and then refusing to do it. (If I wanted something that acted like a cat, I'd get a darn cat).

I have such a hard time with that. That breaks my brain. I tend to be pretty direct about stuff. If I don't want to do something, I will say: "I don't want to do X" and then I get annoyed if people keep asking me because I interpret that as pestering or nagging (and sadly, sometimes it's enough to make me relent and DO X just to get them off my back).

Or if someone does something that irritates me, my response is one of two things:

1. I go to the person and say, "You may not realize this, but when you did Y, it irritated me, and here's why it did" and usually they apologize and it's cool


2. I figure, "Meh, not worth getting upset over" and forget about it and keep going. Much of the time the annoying thing is an isolated incident.

But I don't keep punishing people. And I don't expect people to be freaking mind-readers, which is something a few people in my life do that makes me crazy. Part of it, I know, is my stuff: as I said, I tend to be fairly direct (or else, just shrug and go "not worth being upset") and I also tend to be, if not QUITE on the Asperger's spectrum, close to it, so I don't always get subtext and all the million insane things that some people (mostly women, in my experience, but that may just be my experience) do that strikes me as passive-aggressive. For example: not telling someone you are upset with them over something they did but continuing to snip at them and stuff - that's passive- aggressive. If I did something that insulted someone, I want to KNOW because nine times out of ten it was me being awkward or phrasing something badly and an apology should fix it. (I know when it's the reverse situation, and I'm the aggrieved party, and the person I call out for being rude goes, "Wow, that really came out wrong, I'm sorry" I'm totally like, "It's cool, we all do it sometimes." Intentions matter)

I find it exhausting to deal with people who have so much subtext going on, because I feel like I have to walk on eggshells and I feel like there are all these rules I'm not privy to. (In a way, it's kind of like "microaggression culture," where people are LOOKING to be offended and don't seem willing to extend the grace of saying, "Maybe that person is just socially awkward" or "Maybe that person didn't intend offense but what they said came out wrong" or perhaps even, "Maybe I'm being a little too sensitive here.")

So anyway. I have to call Gina back some time and "meet" with her, which displeases me. But I'm also not answering the damn phone after 9 pm and if she won't listen to my requests not to call that late, I'll just have to train her by not answering.

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