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When I am interviewed for a testing job, over and over I'm asked a question that breaks down to "How do you handle dealing with prima donna programmers?" Sometimes they're just referring to people who are uncooperative; sometimes they're talking about people who can be downright hostile. I've been telling people for years that I have learned to try to build good relations with all of my coworkers so that when the shit hits the fan I'm ready for it, that the friendships I've carefully established help provide a bulwark against tantrums. I have seen over the years that frequently anger, aimed at me, is just letting off steam, and because I am The Lowly Tester I have been chosen to be the unfortunate focus for someone else's bad mood. In interviews, I tell people that I've learned over time to distinguish between the person and the situation, and to not take things personally when tempers flare.

And yet ... I was contacted this week by a guy who was the build guy at a company I worked at some four years or so ago. This is only the second time he's contacted me - but it's clear that he sees me as someone that he was friends with when we worked together. But even though I remember that he liked me, all I can think about was the time he raged at me because the problems he was having with other people he worked with had finally got to him. I could see that he wasn't angry with me as he frothed and his face turned red and as all of the vitriol poured out of his mouth, so I didn't just yell back at him or say anything inflammatory (go me, I've learned how to control my own temper), and yet ... what he did scarred me. I see his email just slowly making it into the pages of mail I received and not getting answered. What does this say about me? Should I just have yelled back at him? I can tell people that I've learned to deal with this stuff, and yet it's clear that at some level it still upsets me. I'm guessing it's kind of working on a "once bitten, twice shy" level, that I've been conditioned to avoid the source of stress even if I haven't realized it's happened. Thank goodness that where I'm working now this has only happened to me once.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
varina8
Mar. 1st, 2005 11:48 pm (UTC)
It's funny, there are people who have unloaded on me in that way who are still good friends and others that make me queasy eons later. My guess is that your unconscious pulled something from his tirade that put up a red flag about his personality, or his ethics, or something else not comfortable beyond just how he reacted in the isolated circumstances. I generally take those things as a warning that this might not be someone to get close to me in any other situations.
jadine
Mar. 2nd, 2005 12:09 am (UTC)
There's a big difference between "dealing with obstreperous coworkers and not being too bothered by it" and "wanting to have anything to do with them outside work".

Do you actually feel upset now when you think about it, or do you just feel like this isn't someone you want to interact with, based on your memory of his unreasonable reaction then? If you are upset, is it because he was angry or because he had no right to vent at you?
webcowgirl
Mar. 2nd, 2005 12:41 am (UTC)
I think I just don't want to see him is how I feel about him, and I don't want to write him because I don't want to be friendly to him. I think he's unstable, I guess.
vulture23
Mar. 2nd, 2005 12:36 am (UTC)
What jadine said. You *did* deal well with the situation... you just don't want to deal with it more than necessary. Being able to get on with things and do what's necessary doesn't mean that you don't feel hurt, or don't carry scars afterwards. It seems to me to be entirely reasonable for you to not really care to talk to someone who's screamed and raged at you for things that were not your fault. (At the same time, I can also see how he might later respect you for being a voice of reason in an unfair and emotional situation...)
webcowgirl
Mar. 2nd, 2005 12:40 am (UTC)
"Wow, you're so cool, you really know how to deal with my bad temper!"
"Oh, I'm sorry, do you think I want to do that AGAIN?"
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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