Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I want to talk about my relationship with my coworkers. I realize my subjects may be depressing lately, with me complaining about everyone and anyone. I don't know. But it's real. So hopefully, if you are reading this, you will find some value or interest in all of this.

My relationship with my coworkers isn't something I'm heavily invested in. They're just my coworkers. I'm not trying to win any popularity contests or find great friends in them. I mean if that happened, that would be great, but it's not that important to me. The reason I talk about them so much is because I see them so often...it's part of work.

I've often complained about my coworkers to people, but I've never actually described just exactly what my relationships with many of them are like. I thought I would do that now. Warning, it may not be pleasant. This is not one of those posts that will leave you with an "aww" smile on your face.

I feel incredibly vulnerable about this, but moving on.

In order for me to talk about this, I have to talk about my office atmosphere and my job function first. It puts it in the right context. Context is important.

My office is small. The number of people who are physically in the office is less than thirty. We also have sales people who work remotely, but I don't interact with them.

Unless you're really out of it, you easily know everyone's names and a little bit of identifying information about them. I even know what car everyone drives and where they park. You're bound to bump into everyone at some point regularly, just walking through the common areas.

There are some cliques here, well, one big one mostly, involving the "younger" people. (But they really aren't that young, in their thirties). They all sit together in the front office space, near where I sit. This isn't a particularly nice clique. The core members of this clique are the kind of people that make you feel bad for not being included. Everyone knows this, but not everyone is as affected (depending on whether you sit with them or near them, whether you're in the same age group, etc.) We've had people who had to leave or switch to a different job because they couldn't handle this clique. Management doesn't like this social atmosphere, but they don't know what to do about it.

I'm the receptionist. I'm presumed to be everyone's friend by default. It's part of my job description. ESPECIALLY because we're in a small office, so I'm expected to be more than just polite, but actually pretty sociable with everyone, on a somewhat personal level. So, now you see, one of the reasons I complain/talk about my coworker relationships so much, is because it is a big part of my job (and one of the hardest parts of it). 

If everyone were nice, this part actually comes pretty easily to me. I like being nice, I AM nice, and I know how to create friendships with people, all people, on an acquaintance level. I don't think everyone can do this, by the way. It's not just a matter of being nice (which is part of it), but also being able to radiate warmth. Anyway. 

So, being that I have to be so open, it makes me more vulnerable, and seem more vulnerable.

I'm also "just" the receptionist. No one has to kiss up to me, and people look down on me (which if they do, is their problem, not mine). AND I don't seem like I could stand up for myself. I'm a prime target for people to be mean to me, and that's what happened, since there weren't nice people here to begin with. Enter...the people in the mean clique. Enter...other random, mean people in the office that exist.

People here were really mean to me. They ganged up on me as a group (the mean clique), and didn't invite me to things in front of my face, regularly, when they knew I wanted to be invited. They did this to me while I was sitting by myself in the lobby, I was all alone. Or one time, when I was kitchen, one person against four. All alone. It was always one person, me, and a "weak" person at that, against a whole group. They thought I wouldn't fight back. They were wrong and right. I did stand up for myself, but not as much as I could have.

Then there were also the other, random mean people in the office...who were usually unpleasant to other people as well, but really had no reason to hold back with me at ALL, because I'm "just" the receptionist. I really felt the full effects of all their psychological problems. I had to deal with these people as well.

People here don't really try this stuff with me anymore or get away with it much, because after years, I finally learned how to be both vulnerable/open AND stand up for myself. (More or less).

However, with the people from the mean clique, there is still that stuff they did to me before, that I let them get away with in the past. I forgive, but I don't forget it. And unless they make amends with me, show me how sorry they are for how they treated me in the past, for my own sake, for my own dignity, I can't be friends with them. I can't even be friendly with them. Basically, they have to know that I heavily dislike them (unless they ever apologize), though I'm not angry because...well...that's not healthy for me and I forgive.

There are three people from that mean clique I don't acknowledge in any way whatsoever. If I see them in the hallways, kitchen, wherever, I walk right on by, always. I don't bother looking at them. Working in a small office, this is downright hostile behavior. Of those three people, one of them acts the same way towards me back, with the same hostility. The other two, I think, would reciprocate if I ever said hi to them.

There are three other people from that mean clique that have tried to be coworker-level friendly with me (though still never apologizing for how they treated me in the past), so I'm a little friendlier back. Only in that I at least look their way, and kind of say hi to them, if they say hi to me out of professionalism and courtesy. But it's uncomfortable enough between us where they know we can't make small talk. Again, we're a small office. I wouldn't call my behavior towards them hostile, but it's not nice.

As far as the rest of the office, there's currently two other people I don't acknowledge, ever. For one of them, he's just as hostile back to me. He started it; he's just not nice. But if he were ever to say hi, I would say hi back. He didn't gang up on me, a "weak" person, in a group, so I don't need sorry-ness on his part. I just need any willingness to have a normal coworker relationship. As far as the other person, he's in a whole, separate category, and I'm going to leave it mostly at that. I fear for my safety with him. It's best not to have any personal contact with him at all. 

With everyone else, I'm fine with them. We say hi. I make occasional small talk with them, if the situation calls for it. It's fine and normal.

So, if you have been reading and read this far, thank you. Now you know how hard it is for me, what I go through on a daily basis, and hopefully, how I'm just trying my best and my only goal throughout all this is just to be a good person - either by being kind, or by standing up for myself because I equally value justice and self-worth. Thanks again. You are helping me to unload a huge burden. I don't have to live in secrecy about what I actually go through.

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