Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lesson Learned


Everyone has their limit: the threshold they personally set for how much they will tolerate, and how far they will let others take advantage before they start pushing back and reacting in anger to a situation in which they placed themselves. For some of us, that threshold is very high, which potentially puts us in a situation where we can be taken advantage of by our colleagues and peers. For me personally, the result of this higher threshold has meant many a sleepless night and worrisome hours. But up until now, that’s been my albatross to bear; a burden I felt I could shoulder because it was just easier than tackling the underlying confidence issues that have plagued me since I was a child. That is until two days ago when I got hit where it really counted: my pocketbook.

After meeting with my new manager, I was concerned about my review score – a score which was advocated for by my old manager. I went back to the source and was told in no uncertain terms I needed to reduce the friction between myself and my co-worker if I wanted to move up.

WHAT?? Are you KIDDING ME, Boss Man?? It takes two to tango, buddy, and I am not leading this dance!

He assured me he provided the same feedback to her, and that she had a lot she needed to work on related to her interpersonal relationships within the team as well. But *I* really needed to evaluate my role in our relationship, and learn to take the high road. He’d seen me do it with other people…why couldn’t I do it with her?

OK – FINE! I guess he is right.

As I was contemplating the feedback, I began to realize this situation could have been avoided had I simply set the appropriate boundaries with this person, and then stood my ground and not allow her to cross into that emotional dangerzone where I allowed her to get the best of me. I’m a feisty Irish-Italian-American with a festering temper; by allowing her to cross those lines that should have been reinforced with emotional barbed wire, I enabled her to trip the landmine and let my distaste and impatience of her annoying little personality quirks get the best of me, and be put on display for the world to see. And now I have to pay the price. Literally.

At 40, I’ve been in the professional workforce for 18 years. I really should know better. And believe me – the message has been received loud and clear. My unwillingness to take the high road here cost me about $4K in bonus money. That’s a tangible amount…and a proverbial brick wall that I hit going 60MPH. I guess it’s time to buckle up (or down, as the case may be) and learn how to cut people like that off at the pass. To not do so, would be doing only myself a disservice, and frankly, that’s too heavy a burden to carry.