Thursday, June 14, 2007

Co-worker (for Mykle)

All of us have a “co-worker”; someone we're forced to work with –by what design who knows – that annoys us because they have no real concept of boundaries. How do we handle these people we are forced to be with 8 HOURS A DAY FOR AT LEAST 5 DAYS A WEEK? Do we tell them that their annoying drivel that spews from their mouth is really no interest to us - or do we listen, nod our heads, and say oh yes, you're right. I suspect they know we're placating them, unless they are so self involved they don't spot the eye glaze over.

The worst case is what I like to call the “Flynn factor”. Based on co-worker of the past who inevitably every day gave a rundown of what she’s doing and what’s going on with her – or would ask you about yourself only in turn so she could talk about herself, she perfectly encapsulates the self-involved talker. And yes, there's more than one of her out there. My friend Tom, who I believe when he encountered the Flynn would do the nodding head, came up with the perfect internal response of, “I DIDN’T ASK.” It's so true, you don't. With these people, you learn not to ask because you really don't want to hear it and... hear it. Why don't they just buy a blow up dummy and talk to it because they have no real interest in having a discussion or give and take with you. It seems it's all about the take - take your time and energy.

So at a recent temp gig, I've been experiencing a bit of the Flynn factor (for a more active term, I use, I've been Flynned) In early bonding with recent co-worker, I told her about my friend who’s caring for a child at home. She ‘s been trying to get a home business together but for various reasons, nothing has gotten off the ground yet. But just hearing that my friend is a stay at home mom, co-worker says, “she should get a job or do a home business. Women need that… my friend, blah, blah, blah….” Um, interesting. You don’t know my friend and already you’re telling me what she should be doing. As I got to know her, it came out that she’s living with her “rich” boyfriend. She doesn’t really need to work, he’d take care of her, but she’s resentful that he hasn’t helped her in what she wants to do… blah blah blah. Interesting. Project much? I stopped initiating conversations with her after talking at length about whether she should take the job there, in the legal dept. even though she wants to work in the art field. I told her, based on what she said and how she felt, she shouldn't. She took the job and then blamed her boyfriend. Um, ok. So I learned not to get involved that much in conversation. Why waste my time if you aren't going to help yourself? It got very quiet in our sector of the office.

People would pass by our desk area and comment on how quiet it was. Well, wars can be quiet. We just silently retreated into our own areas. Sort of. Occasionaly I would venture out but would get the response of, you should be doing this... ugh - and eventually she asked me to tell her honestly what is wrong with her - career wise that is... I felt pulled in, a vortex of self-involvement tugging at me... I answered that she was working against herself... I felt weird afterwords like actual lifeforce was drug out. Luckily my assignment was ending in a week. Of course to her, I was the moody one with issues that I took out on her... um whatever.

Perhaps one day, in a nice compassionate way, with a serene smile, I might just say, "I didn't ask," and see what happens. Oh, the liberation...

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