If you haven’t been witness to the debacle that is my work environment lately, do catch up. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Yesterday, I sat down around a conference table with my immediate boss and the Director of the program (her boss). I get along pretty well with both of them, so it seemed like I’d have a fighting chance that they’d realize that my coworker (the AEGS) was wrong, I was right, and that I continue to be the rockin’-est employee they have. And then we’d all hug, wipe away glistening tears, and sing Bob Marley.
Yeah….not exactly what happened.
I related my side of the story, including the moment later that day when my coworker saw fit to accost me in the hallway and yell that she never wanted to speak to me again, that she didn’t want to hear my apology, and that every word that came out of my mouth was an insult. This, after I had sent her an email suggesting that we sit down and talk about the situation as colleagues.
The “talk to the hand” is always nice.
What was even nicer was the reaction of the two bosses:
“Well, we’re a very diverse group here, with lots of strong personalities…”
“…differences in cultures, in ways of thinking…”
“…not trying to take sides, everyone is to blame and no one is to blame…”
“I mean, what is yelling? Yelling can be defined so many ways…”
“Well, maybe there’s just not been enough time gone by. Maybe you apologized too soon…”
And here’s where there’s nothing else to say. IF, as this approach would suggest, interpersonal differences have no basis in right or wrong, but in your perspective, then there cannot be any black and white. By this logic, a person could come up to me and smack me across the face, and continue walking down the hallway, and it would simply be a matter of culture. Different modalities, as boss #2 quipped. The person would be chuckled at for being a “strong personality”, and we’d all just move on.
(Interlude: AEGS just walked down the hallway. I heard her saying “Have a great weekend, Sylvia. Enjoy your time off, Amy! Thanks for the help with the tests, Leah!” And then- silence as she passed my office, entered the elevator, and left. Classy.)
And so what to me is objectively, ethically wrong, is really just a matter of a diverse cultural environment.
Yay for diversity. Pass the margaritas.