Today I attended a training entitled “Working with Difficult Behaviors (Including Your Own).” Yes kids, sensitivity training. Nice.
While I can’t fathom why I would like to learn to aid and abet assholes by tacitly agreeing that I don’t deserve to be treated with respect or professional behavior, I was quite curious as to what would be said about dealing with one’s own assholic attitudes. Also, the training was required.
I knew there would be trouble when I entered to find that the very very ethnic-y sounding named lady that would be leading the course was in fact one of those white people who’ve forgotten that every culture (including the various pale ones) have interesting aspects and provocative histories, thus have adopted whichever (though possibly a jumble of several) “Eastern” culture is readily available. She had a gong (hey onomatopoeia) and a Chinese printed Nehru jacket.
BONG! It begins.
Of course in the obligatory opening remarks we got down to the business of making shit up about feelings. We were told to always use “I Statements.”
Example of an “I Statement:” I feel bad when crazy-ass bitches yell at me over the phone because they failed to correctly complete and return their paperwork, despite numerous messages and emails before the deadline, which they’ve known about for literally 5 years.
Here’s an even better “I Statement:” I have a hard time taking my presenters seriously after they use the phrase “don’t let your life-fire die.” May I mention that the only thing burning inside me is the desire for Joaquin Phoenix and some Reflux Disorder symptoms.
Speaking of throwing up in my mouth…
First exercise of the day: write down the advantages to learning to more skillfully work with difficult behaviors. A good translation: how will taking it in the ass and learning to pretend that you like it improve your life at work?
Which leads me to this thought: the ENTIRE purpose of the meeting was to forcibly remove any expectation of personal or professional accountability from our peers.
Ok, I know you’ve all heard this a million times from me, but where the hell did accountability go?
Example of lack of accountability when negatively enforced:
I left my apartment a few weeks ago and as I walked to my car (parked on a quite narrow one-way street) I overheard two gentlemen talking. Gentleman #1 was saying to his friend, “I can’t believe some asshole hit my truck! They didn’t even leave a note with insurance information or anything!” Gentlemen #2, “What the hell is wrong with people these days?” I should mention that the man’s huge truck was a good 3.5-4 feet from the curb. Of course it did not occur to either gentleman that perhaps his truck got hit because it was parked in the middle of the fucking road! Why should someone stop to pay for damage that was caused to a vehicle illegally parked in the damn road? I might also mention that this road is the main access to the old folks home, tap studio, and architect studio on my street. I suppose the fact that customers, deliveries, and, oh say, emergency vehicles may need to, oh say, drive right there never occurred to this guy. While he was completely clueless as to the fact that his truck was likely hit due to his own stupidity, perhaps next time he will park closer to the curb.
Example of lack of accountability when positively enforced:
My cousin works for a very large luxury retail boutique corporation. She works the complaint line. (Her life must rock.) Anyway, one day she gets a call from some guy who parked at one of the locations and when he returned to his brand new Jaguar (HELLLLLLLOOOOOOO you just paid 50 grand for a FORD) someone has backed into it causing a rather steep garage bill and he “wants to know what VLLRBC is going to do about it?” He actually expected them to pay for damage that his car sustained from a non-employee while parked in their parking lot. Well, she tells him to go to hell, as nicely as possible. Well later this guy calls back, gets her boss on the line and VLLRBC agrees to pay for his car repairs and sends him a $150 gift card. What does this tell him? I yell, you pay.
Ah, the American Way.
Why should I positively reinforce abusive behavior, by being conciliatory and perky towards people who casually trample societal mores, office rules, and the law? Screw that, when people call me and start abusing, I have no compunction in interrupting to demand an email cc’d to both of our supervisors. Shaming people into appropriate behavior was your mama’s job, but if she couldn’t manage it I’m always happy to help.