Black and white and gray all over

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.

This entry was posted in academia, intercultural, language and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Black and white and gray all over

  1. antropologa says:

    Wow, that really sucks. So sorry. Very weird.

  2. Diversity and political correctness. We dare not offend anyone, even the offensive.

  3. ck says:

    “Maybe you apologized too soon…”

    Wow. Imagine if we taught our kids that? ”

    Are they afraid of this AEGS?

    Please keep us posted on this situation. Something tells me it’s far from over…

  4. Melek says:


    What a perfect depiction of the one constant in the world of Political Correctness (PC), relativity!!

    I wish you well 🙂 Melek

    “Purveyors of political correctness will, in the final analysis, not even allow others their judgments… They celebrate “difference,” but they will not allow people truly to be different — to think differently, and to say what they think.” ~ Mark Berley

  5. Limonpartido says:

    Wow….I can’t believe it…que pena…seriously…the are politics everywhere…

  6. Gibby says:

    Flip her the bird, then when she protests, merely tell her that in YOUR environment, this is completely acceptable.

  7. insider53 says:

    Looking for the biggest switch I can find. If ever any one deserved a good hide tanning it’s her. The unmeetable gaul of some people never fails to shock me.

  8. KathyB! says:

    I think if you use your imagination you can come up with all sorts of “cultural differences” to share with the AEGS.

    I know that’s of absolutely no help.

    I find in situations like this that if I focus on being the best me that I can possibly be and essentially ignoring the situation — that over time people see the truth for what it is. Unfortunately it sucks big time until the rest of the world catches up. I hope these people are fast.

  9. Gibby says:

    All the other commenters are so much more mature than me! LOL!

  10. Jen says:

    The number one way universities recruit and retain faculty is through their departmental relationships. New faculty will usually only stay 2-3 years if they don’t feel respected, valued, and connected to the rest of the department (especially the director). It’s sad that your supervisors are taking the stance they are…not only for the student who was belittled by the AEGS and for the future students she will come in contact with…but also for departmental relationship they are foster by this.

    It seems that they would rather pretend conflicts don’t happen than deal with the conflicts at hand. This makes me so grateful for the director I have.

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