3 more reader updates

Three more updates from readers who had their questions answered here this year!  This is the last of the updates in this round.

1. The reader wondering whether to tell her manager why she’d been behaving oddly at work (a fall-out with a coworker and the break-up of her marriage) (#4 at the link)

I took your advice and just concentrated on keeping my head above water for a while, and as things went from bad to worse with my family situation, I definitely let some things slip at work. I acknowledged to coworkers when I dropped the ball, and I’m now concentrating on rebuilding my reputation, taking on more responsibility, etc.

Because it was hard for me at the time to distinguish my feelings from my behavior, I think an apology to the boss would have complicated and exacerbated the circumstances. I tend to think fixing your behavior is the best apology anyway.

I also think one of the comments hit it on the head. I was pretty jealous of my manager and coworker for their good relationship, and needed to reset my expectations to reasonable boss-employee and coworker-coworker relationships, and stop worrying about their relationship with each other.

Thanks for your advice, it was one of the best things that happened to me at the time.

2. The reader wondering if mentioning her book deal was hurting her job prospects (#4 at the link)

I just wanted to let you know that you were absolutely right and I switched around the framing, and it’s been successful. While I don’t have a job yet, I’ve had two interview requests and things are looking much better. Thanks for your help!

3. The reader wondering how to fit into office culture during a part-time internship and whose invitation to the staff retreat had been rescinded

I had written to you over the summer regarding my summer internship and the strange office culture/general unfriendly vibe that I was experiencing there. Shortly after I wrote to you, and after taking some of the advice of commenters, I found that my experience with the staff became much warmer. I don’t think that anything particularly changed about my behavior – I do believe, as many folks assessed in their responses, that much of the feeling had to do with the fact that being a short term, temporary employee in an office often means that it feels a little stiff.

In any case, shortly thereafter, the Associate Dean took me aside and apologized to me for rescinding her invitation for the staff retreat. She explained that it had not been a smooth planning process and she really felt at the time that, per what I would get out of the experience versus the cost of me taking public transportation out there and time away from the office, it wouldn’t have been a good time investment. She then said she realized that that could have made me feel uncomfortable, which wasn’t her intent. Shortly after that, I started connecting more intentionally with my colleagues and was really pleased by the relationships that I was able to build.

I walked out of the experience with some very great project work under my belt, and some incredible contacts. Plus, I think I have a very strong chance of being hired at the institution and might even consider working at that office again if the opportunity presented itself. I know, a very different situation from where I had began in the office, but I was very much impressed with the latter part of the experience. That said, I haven’t forgotten the short-term weirdness and I would definitely be discriminating if I find myself with multiple options.

{ 9 comments… read them below }

  1. Not So NewReader*

    #3. I am so happy for you that this whole story turned around. Congrats. And I am very impressed with how the boss explained the situation to you. I think she handled herself in a manner that is an example to all of us here. Thanks for sharing this.

    #1. I don’t know if I can explain this very well. But there is something about taking ownership of my setting that seems to make me feel stronger. Not at first though. To go back through and fix mistakes is a huge piece of humble pie. To keep my chin up required a chiropractor. It was that hard. Surprisingly, I found new parts of myself. I took ownership of what was wrong and learned 1) I did not die from it firstly and 2) I learned a LOT about me and about the people around me.
    Oddly, I came out of stronger than I had ever been before. I think that strength was all the knowledge/insight I had gained in the process of fixing things up. I encourage you not be afraid/worried but just stay the course. It sounds like you are doing really well.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Upper vertebra c1-c8. All that stress had to go some where.
        In the end, I had to go to a chiro to be able to actually keep my chin UP. OP might benefit from a chiro or a good massage. Sometimes we have to invest in ourselves when the chips are down. It is a major tool in getting through the tough stuff. We have to have get some relief some how.

    1. QualityControlFreak*

      What fposte said. Not only fabulous phrases, but some excellent advice as well, with a down-to-earth, sympathetic delivery that makes it really accessible to other readers. Thanks, NSNR.

    2. Jessica (the celt)*

      Thank you for saying this so succinctly regarding #1. I’ve been in similar situations where I needed to keep my chin up. When I was new to the workplace, I’m sad to admit that I took things more to heart than I should have, so keeping my chin up was much, much harder. Now, even if something feels personal, I keep myself moving forward and take charge of what I can. I think your response is extremely insightful. You explained it very well, so thank you.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Thanks, folks. Just paying forward what a relative stranger did for me. She saw my choices and she understood I was digging my way out of a mess. She shared that she once had a big mess, too. (I was floored by what she shared. It did not fit with what I knew about her.) It takes time. But she strongly assured me that I would be alright- in time. (She was right but I could not see how/when/why at that point.)
      I was impressed that she did not bat an eye at my mess. I was impressed that she saw through my mess to see a HUMAN BEING. And I was struck by how confident she was that I could ride out the storm and be okay in a bit.
      OP has a good plan. It will work. And she will probably become a person that everyone wants as a coworker. Then one day someone will say “I stepped in some crap…” and it will be her turn to pay it forward.

      1. Office Worker*

        NSSR Thank you so much for sharing that. I went through a terrible time a few years ago and I was deeply upset but still had to drag myself to work every day where I tried to fake it until I could make it through.

        I had a coworker take me aside and share with me that she had experienced something similar many years before and she understood what I was going through. I was really surprised as she was a quiet and private person that I really didn’t know very well. She offered me the use of her office whenever I needed for a private few moments with or without her in it. She didn’t ask me any questions or offer any advice, she just offered me space and understanding and told me to be kind to myself. It really helped me so much.

        It is true, kindness comes in many ways,

      2. tcookson*

        Thanks for your comments, NSNR. I’ve been in a bit of a mess myself lately — needing to rearrange priorities to be more effective at my job, realizing that my previous priority order has been irritating some folks — and your comments have given me some needed encouragement to go in to work this morning and start the work re-boot with my chin up.

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