A meeting I had in work this morning was an absolute microcosm of my life and social ineptitude. Lets call the employee I was dealing with Carol.
Carol has come in from what has been in effect a month's leave as she has had to look after her kids during the holidays. she is a part-time worker and is excellent at her job: she's a real hard worker. while she's been away the department has been restructured and of all people within the team her job has been changed the most, taking away virtually everything that she prided herself in on the role.
But do I consider that before our meeting. Not nearly well enough!
So, we sit down and the first thing she says is "How are you?" to which I respond "Well, I'm here, but I'm going to tell you something that i haven't told everyone, but I'll tell you because I know you'll get it. I have been referred to the psychologist for assessment for Aspergers Syndrome."
Carol says to me "do you feel better?"
I nodded "so much better".
"Yes", says Carol, "because you have an answer"
There was something in the way she said it that didn't sit right. i still don't know what and I keep going back to it. but i followed it up with the response that is now making me cringe
"yes, i said, and its a good answer, because now i understand why when it felt like the entire core of my job was taken away from me and changed that I just couldn't cope." She just nodded with dewy eyes. "but that's not why we're here," I continued. "we're here to talk about your job role." "well, " says she, "its good that you feel you can talk about it with me. thanks for sharing." then we moved on to talk about her new role.
And she hates it. HATES it. hates the fact we've changed it. hates that her roles have went to other people, hates that no-one else's have changed this much as hates that we've done it now and given her new responsibilities just as she is about to take time off due to medical need and so she won't even be able to define her job role. Someone else will put it all into place while she is away. Now she doesn't put it in that way but I've known her long enough to see it in her, in her reactions, and in the long awkward silences where she fights back tears.
And all after I told her about how I understand why i reacted so badly when i felt my role changed. well it didn't change nearly as much as hers. its like comparing bruising your shoulder to losing your arm. I wish i could have seen this coming at the start of the meeting. I wish I could predict other people's reactions better, and I wish i was less self involved.
note to self - if someone asks how you are, they are being polite. they don't really want to know!!!