2016

I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!


Monday, February 15, 2010

In tears at her desk

I was recently at a meeting where various folk had to come in and talk to the committee at different stages of proceedings. At this meeting, there was a little delay, then a man walked in and said the woman who was supposed to come couldn't, because she was in tears at her desk.

I felt this was a little too much information, in a professional setting. I know we always like to hear about trauma and drama, but if I am ever discovered in tears at my desk, I'd prefer people didn't announce it, with my name, to a committee of strangers, thank you very much. I'm just saying.

9 comments:

steptrig said...

So I guess the next time this gentleman takes the newspaper to the men's room, the lady should make sure and inform the department? seems fair...

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Stupidity, or malice, do you think? Had to be the one or the other.

Elisabeth said...

There's certainly a lack of subtlety and tact in this fellow's announcement.

Perhaps it's a throwback to the days when people were not supposed to cry in public, not even at funerals.

To me it's gross. Paternalistic in the extreme and as Kerry G suggests, maybe with a touch of malice or envy or just plain ordinary inappropriateness.

Stephanie Trigg said...

Well, I read it as simple human thoughtlessness: you know, someone thrilling at the drama without thinking that the reason the woman hadn't turned up was in part because she didn't want people to know she was crying. I don't think it was malicious.

It's a reminder to me that sometimes less is more, in terms of personal disclosure in a professional setting.

I know: a weird thing to come from this blog...

Ceirseach said...

Perhaps he was just trying to help, without thinking how she might feel about that. It's certainly an effective excuse: as emotional unfitness tends to be a less socially acceptable excuse than physical, the symbolic weight of tears perhaps provide more of a solid (well, liquid) excuse that the 'illness' is genuine. She really can't come - she really IS unhappy, so unhappy that she has brought her tears to work.

Still. I'd rather not, too.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

If it was the sort of committee one must come before and speak one's piece in turn, it sounds to me like the performance stress got to her. In which case there would indeed be serious questions about her professionalism. Forgive my cynicism but on the basis of the information Stephanie gives here, it sounds to me like the bloke who made the announcement knew exactly what he was doing.

WV: oratta. Uncanny.

Anonymous said...

Well, it may have been performance stress, or it may have been something entirely unrelated to the work situation (people have personal lives too). I tend to think the gesture was aimed at discrediting this woman. People expect a certain level of professionalism and sensitivity over such matters, but this, to me, seems just plain nasty. I'm not surprised, though, the old English Department, where I worked briefly, seemed to lack a certain humane dimension in interpersonal relations, with some very notable exceptions. Fortunately, I was able to discover that if you can't agree with what the place throws at you, you're very likely to be a perfectly capable, emotionally well-adjusted human being, highly employable elsewhere. I hope this staff member can mention something regarding this 'frankness' at a next meeting.

humanities

Stephanie Trigg said...

Just to clarify: this committee had nothing at all to do with the English department. Heaven knows, we're not perfect in the interpersonal relations area; and in the past have been worse. I think that's a fair call.

That's quite a challenge, though, isn't it? To produce an emotionally well-adjusted workplace, I mean.

David Thornby said...

Even given the stereotypical (and actual) lack of empathy typically displayed by men in workplaces, the more I contemplate this the more it seems deliberate. Tact isn't necessarily automatic, but it's not hard to grasp either, and if you can't be tactful about tears, when can you? I guess you could check his typical tact level by getting co-workers to hide in the bathroom, and see if he reports their whereabouts as being 'indisposed' or 'on the torlet'.

Did she ask him to excuse her from the meeting, and did he just get it wrong?