Long-time lurker here. This is my first post. Hang tight! I'm processing a conversation and am still quite raw about it and I'd like to hear from an unbiased audience (all you lovely people).
I recently had a conversation with a manager that left me feeling deflated and ashamed. Normally I'm 100% open to any and all feedback, positive or otherwise, but this felt more like a personal attack than any work-related correction. Also note that this feedback was immediately preceded by the quick, offhand announcement that I wouldn't be getting the position I've applied for twice. Nice little one-two punch there!
I was told that my communication style and approach rub teammates the wrong way and what had began as hints (to boss) had become direct complaints. I have been labeled as reactive and negative, despite being known as the exact opposite up until recently. Prior to this boss repeatedly praised me for being quick, detail-oriented, an unafraid to speak up.
I truly feel that those recently applied labels are inherently sexist and would not even be considered for a male colleague. What is seen as reactive in me would be proactive and mission-focused in a man, what is seen as negative in me would be seen as realistic and efficiency-oriented in a man. Note that the majority of my colleagues are women. Also, there was at no point in the conversation an opportunity provided to me to explain why I might be expressing these perceived emotions.
The one point I continued to stress in our conversation was that I did not understand the feedback I was being given as I do not see where my communications might be labeled as such. I repeatedly asked for specific examples but, rather than provide them, boss alluded vaguely to "people on this team and others" and told me to review my communications.
Y'all, on average I send over 50+ messages a day and have umpteen meetings/week with teammates all over the org. I have ZERO idea whose feelings I might be hurting. I've been stressing so hard the last 24 hours and have reviewed literally any communications that I can think of for this but am coming up blank. I've even come across comms from other teammates that I would say are brusk and too direct, but I understand that in our workplace it's important to clearly communicate. This is also coming from someone who obsesses over every communication I have and can't tell you the number of times I've written and rewritten AND REWRITTEN messages and emails because I'm paranoid about how they'll be perceived.
However, the conversation continued to take on the tone of being more about my personality than the actual communications I was having with teammates. I take pride in being (what I feel) is self-aware and was deeply hurt to be accused of being difficult to work with as I have worked YEARS to overcome workplace (and social) anxiety as well as rampant imposter syndrome and a complete inability to self-promote. I make it a point to connect with my coworkers in positive, relaxed settings as much as possible but I'm also fiercely protective of my personal time/space.
I was told by boss to request time with teammates (again, wouldn't tell me which ones) for some "tough love", a phrase I detest hearing in a professional setting. I can handle the feedback from them but do not trust in the least that it would be honest, especially since no one has even hinted to me of an issue prior to this. I also suspect this would be nothing more than a chance for teammates to word-vomit all over me and then, having gotten that off their chest, they'll leave feeling like bad girl me learned her lesson. I've been through waaaay too much in 2020 to be anyone proverbially punching bag.
One of my biggest complaints about our departments comm style is that we're all younger (millennial) women who seem to be able to talk in circles around something to the point that we're so dizzy no one actually knows who's doing what. I've tried to combat this by being polite but concise, detailed but direct. I frequently ask for clarification and continue to suggest helpful improvements where I think we could get better. (note: said suggestions where, until about 6 months ago, always met with approval and excitement)
Above all, I'm really trying to come to terms with the fact that this feels like high school all over again. I enjoy my job and feel that what my company does is important. I do lots of work and (I think) do it very well. I generally like my teammates but, at the end of day, I'm here to do a job, not make friends. Is that too harsh?
Shouldn't your professional progression be based on your efforts, not on who'd want to drink with on a Friday? I totally get that workplace politics play a huge role in every org but I'm so stinkin' angry that something I've been working towards for months has been denied because I'm perceived as too nit picky and, rather than connect with me directly like we're all encouraged to do, complaints were made to boss.
Am I overreacting? How would you move forward with this?
Do I just smile more and throw in a few extra emojis to every message? HELP!!!!
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