EDIT: There has been an update to this blog post.
Today was a heavy day. One that signals, hopefully for the last time, a need to make a big change in my personality.
In my written communication I often come across as highly arrogant and as if I have a god complex. I also tend to make decissions without confering with colleagues who may also be involved with the area involved. This has gotten me a few professional successes, but it's also gotten me a few reprimands, because people feel I was overstepping my bounds. This attitude also gives off the notion of a lack of confidence in others.
Today this climaxed in a meeting with my boss, two colleagues from other teams (teams A and B, us being C) and their respective bosses. Over the past year the relationships between our teams had been pretty difficult, so my boss and I went into the meeting thinking this was about clearing the air between our teams and on forging the way onward. However, it turns out that it was a meeting solely intended to discuss my attitude and my influence on our three teams. That was rather unexpected.
What was even more unexpected is that colleague R (team B), whom I've known and worked with for at least six years, now refuses to work with me. One of my emails apparently drove him into a red haze state, for which he visited his GP. I mean, seriously! That's not good! All the while I'd thought that me and R were just being the way we'd always been: sometimes friendly, sometimes sparring rather angrily. But I never expected this! It was slightly reassuring to hear from colleagues that I'm not the first one to trigger this condition in R, but it still makes me feel awful! Of course I don't want to be responsible for such an event!
The roles of two of the teams were clear in the meeting. Obviously R and his manager (team B) were very displeased and most of the hour was spent determining my failings and asking how I was going to change them. And obviously I was there to answer for myself and to hear them out (team C). I'm very thankful that my own manager backed me up fully, agreeing that things were bad, but also indicating that all of this is not a lost cause and that she saw more good than bad in me. In all this team A were rather passive. Our two departments have had a strained relationship, but we've ascertained that those troubles are not actually tied to my person.
I readily admit that I have a large ego and that in some situations I exude (over)confidence. But I also posit that a lot of the problems discussed today were due to bad communication. Specifically: due to a poor choice of words. My language is often crass and "street". I also speak in absolutes, even if I'm not actually trying to convey that. For example:
I think we can all agree that my choice of words does not match the message I'm trying to convey.
I have also re-read the email message that sent my colleage R into his bad state. And I can see where it went wrong: because of a bad choice of words and because I didn't convey the full message, assuming that the left-out parts were clear. My boss also read through the email and agrees that that's how it went. Where my email was supposed to add to an already large email discussion, suggesting that R's suggestion was sub-optimal for my team and that we would prefer another one and that we would need to discuss it further, he read the message as me putting him down in front of at least four high-placed managers.
So. Where do we go from here? Most of the points were discussed with my manager.
This will be part of my study goal of enryo (遠慮): reservation in communications and in decissions.
After all the negativity, R gave me one parting message, which stood out in its positivity: "You need to learn to open up and to trust others. Rely on them to do their thing. You cannot deal with everything yourself and you will find yourself needing their help". The reason why this message touched me so much, was because it perfectly matches the thing I need to learn to cope with my anxiety: the wellbeing of others does not depend on my effort alone.
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