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  • FIRST POST
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 27th Jun 17, 7:25 PM
    • 59Posts
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    PossiblyOverworked
    Co-worker editing documents with "(s)he" to just "he" about generic people
    • #1
    • 27th Jun 17, 7:25 PM
    Co-worker editing documents with "(s)he" to just "he" about generic people 27th Jun 17 at 7:25 PM
    I work in "teapot design and manufacturing" in the Quality Inspection area (let's say - obviously this isn't my real industry). Part of my role involves writing process documents about the "teapot quality checking" process, and the docs have to use quite formal, "third party" language e.g. "the Teapot Inspector must check the 1st and every 25th teapot and must note the results on Sheet B" rather than being worded as a set of instructions to the Teapot Inspector ("Check the 1st and every 25th teapot and note what you find on sheet B").

    The documents get submitted and double checked through someone who is 'Senior' in my team but isn't actually my line manager (he and I have the same manager) before being added to a library of process documents.

    So in writing these documents, I've put things like "if the Teapot Inspector finds a defect, (s)he must raise it with the Manager on duty or if (s)he is unable to contact the Manager then... blah blah blah". Obviously "(s)he" is a shorthand way of writing "he or she" or similar -- "he or she" gets cumbersome very quickly in a document where you have to use it a lot of times.

    The Senior person reviewed the documents I did, and they made their way in to the document library with no significant changes, but the Senior person had replaced every instance of "(s)he" etc with "he"!

    I asked why (in a "what should I do differently next time so you don't have to edit it" way although that was sort of passive aggressive on my part) and got a response that was basically: it's cumbersome to keep putting (s)he etc and it looks out of place, and besides, all of our Teapot Inspectors are male so it is just "he" for all practical purposes. (I'm paraphrasing but that was essentially it)

    I'm still listed as the 'author' of these documents for what that's worth.

    It is actually the case that all of our Teapot Inspectors are male, but that's just because it's a fairly male-dominated industry and the best applicants for the job happened to be male. There's isn't an unofficial policy against hiring females or anything (I'm female, but don't fall into the Teapot Inspector group).

    So my question is, should I bring this up again with this co-worker or just leave it? Should I do it differently in the future and just use "he" (which I really don't want to do) as I'm pretty sure the senior coworker would say something to our manager like "I had to edit all of PossiblyOverworked's documents again before we could upload them" without any context...

    He is pretty clueless about how things are perceived by other people, being inclusive, etc.

    I didn't just push back since although he isn't my manager, he does have a sort of quasi-supervisor status in the team (possibly because he wanted to leave, they wanted to keep him so gave him this spurious authority, presumably with a pay bump which they needed to justify.) He is "thick as thieves" with our mutual manager and I'm a good employee but not well liked by this manager for some reason I haven't figured out (I get on with most of the people ok!)

    What should I do ??
    Last edited by PossiblyOverworked; 27-06-2017 at 7:33 PM.
Page 5
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 4th Jul 17, 11:48 PM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    Regarding "HR don't give out warnings, Managers do" (sorry can't find the specific post)... At this company the disciplinary process is that HR send out a meeting request and then you turn up, HR give some kind of preamble and what you are "accused" of, you get a chance to give your side, Manager chimes in with their observations and then HR says "So we are proposing to give you a written warning" (or whatever) and then hands over a document.

    The Manager's input is just to tell HR that so-and-so did this, and then HR decides what the "sentence" is going to be.
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 5th Jul 17, 12:05 AM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    OK, that is not going to happen. Even if HR agree with you that using 'he' is sexist, at most they may say that the document is to be amended.

    At its highest, on this specific issue he is guilty of nothing more than following old-fashioned rules of grammar.
    The other issues are things which you can report to HR as and when they occur.

    So far as the drafting point is concerned, you could raise it, but rather than say 'John is a sexist pig and he is deliberately doing this' your approach should be 'I noticed that the draft I produces had been amended to change (s)he to he. I realise that (s)he is clumsy and it's important that the document is clear and easy to read. I would like to suggest , moving forward, that we use 'they' rather than either 'he' or 'she' to avoid any perception of sexism or sexist attitudes - it can feel very exclusionary when documents use 'he', particularly in areas where women are already under represented. I think it it would be a small, but really cheap and simple way of following our equal opportunities policies' (I assume your company has equal opportunity policies)

    (If you think that the grammar issue will be raised, you can add: 'I know that using 'they' as a singular used to be thought of as bad grammar but it is now recognised as correct but most authorities, including the OED')

    That way, it doesn't come over as someone with a grudge raising trivial issues about another staff member, but more as a head-sup to management that there is something which does come across as sexist but which can be very, very easily addressed, so you assumed that they'd want to know.

    Don't criticise or blame John at all, acknowledge that your original solution wasn't great and make it about having found a better alternative.

    And if at some future point you hear John making sexist comments then report that at the time it happens
    Originally posted by TBagpuss
    It's just so frustrating that he has a history of bigoted comments and behaviour like this, but nothing has been done about it, but at the same time he has got me and other co-workers in "hot water" with HR due to minor things that are now on our permanent records. I just don't see why he is immune to this (unless there is something "going on" between him and our manager, which I have considered, and there is a sort of flirting quality to it but I don't think it's anything substantial.)

    As in.. I saw and heard him reviewing CVs and threw them in the bin because "we don't want someone from Kerblikistan* here cos they won't fit in" (*obviously just a placeholder) and I didn't say anything because actually I didn't know what I could say. Actually even apart from nationality, he threw all kinds of CVs in the bin because "not enough experience" or whatever, and who knows what happened to the personal information on those CVs? - they were submitted to a HR department or hiring manager, and for myself if submitting a CV with things like my date of birth and address on it, I wouldn't be too happy to hear it had just been thrown out with the general rubbish where any identity thief could get hold of it.
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 5th Jul 17, 12:15 AM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    As an example of things that can be brought up to managers and held against you: Our workplace is very strict about calls being made from the department phone (i.e. you can't do it) but one day "someone" made a personal call from the office phone (it wasn't me, it was another staff member and I know who it was but didn't tattle), the manager found out and was casting around to find out who it was, and John told her that I was in the office around that time (which I had gone in there a few minutes after, but for a legitimate reason about some piece of paperwork and not involving the phone) and let her believe that it was me who had made the call.

    On other occasions we have had to work late to get a "teapot" order completed and he's told the boss that "she was here until 6.30pm" (when he went home to have his dinner but then didn't come back because of something or other with childcare - we finish at 6 normally) leaving out the fact that I actually stayed until 11pm and didn't go home for dinner , and getting me a reprimand from the boss about my habit of leaving before the job is done.

    When I tried to argue about these things and give my side it was disregarded as basically "he is Senior so must be right" and I was threatened with formal disciplinary processess if I carried on being "difficult"

    With an active disciplinary process you are not eligible for a pay rise (pay is already below market average I feel) and maybe more importantly, the company will not give a reference when you leave.
    Last edited by PossiblyOverworked; 05-07-2017 at 12:22 AM.
    • getmore4less
    • By getmore4less 5th Jul 17, 7:08 AM
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    getmore4less
    And you work there because.....?
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 5th Jul 17, 7:10 AM
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    sangie595
    I think that you are getting very confused about what you are being told here, so I am going to make it as simple as possible.

    The only opinion that matters is that of your employer. Right, wrong or indifferent is irrelevant. Your employer calls the shots. They have decided that John's services and skills are more valuable than those of others and they wish to retain them. They have decided that his opinions count more than yours. They don't find what he says objectionable. In other words, boiling this down, the employer is happy with your colleague. So your opinion is irrelevant. It is nothing. What you think about what people should think or do doesn't matter one iota.

    If this is not acceptable to you... Tough. Get another job if this isn't how you wish to work. But the employer does not change for an employee. And no amount of ranting on a anonymous forum is going to change that.

    And as for him being a tattle tale- you don't appear to be above that yourself, so that's the kettle calling the pot. You've just spent several pages listing all his faults and errors - in your opinion. If that isn't tattling.....?

    So it's very simple. He is valued more than you. Nobody cares what your opinion of this is. If you don't like it, find another job. Any other option is one that will backfire on you. And you know this. And if everything got say about him is true, and even if that is all stuff that nobody likes, you are still coming across as just as bad - you are being petty and vindictive, based on your personal prejudices, which is exactly what you are accusing him of being.
    • Nicki
    • By Nicki 5th Jul 17, 8:53 AM
    • 7,512 Posts
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    Nicki
    The "minor" offences you list which resulted in disciplinary action are all things which most workplaces would consider misconduct however! Being aggressive to a colleague, ignoring the dress code, making personal calls when these are expressly forbidden, capability.

    You on the other hand are raising a subjective judgment issue and unless there is a company policy on the style of formal documents it doesn't meet that benchmark which is why I am saying your expectations are unrealistic.

    If the company genuinely can't cope with staff leaving and John was only promoted to keep him, why don't you offer to resign and see if they offer you the same title? If you are confident that you are a better worker than him, that should resolve the issue once and for all. If you think however they'd be happy to let you go, then that tells you all you need to know.
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 6th Jul 17, 10:58 PM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    And you work there because.....?
    Originally posted by getmore4less
    That's a good question and there are 2 answers (I don't know which takes priority in my mind, really) 1. I am actively taking courses and studying things that could lead to a career in the "teapot" design industry elsewhere, so until I finish them I am just biding my time (don't want an unnecessary job-hopping arrangement on my CV), and 2. I feel like if I leave they will be a bit screwed, even if I'm not the most popular person I am by far the most productive and know the most about all the processes (yes, even more then Senior-John!) and so I would be leaving them in the whatsit if I were to leave. There are many times a day I'm asked how to deal with "such and such situation" as managers and colleagues have no idea.
    Last edited by PossiblyOverworked; 06-07-2017 at 11:01 PM.
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 6th Jul 17, 11:12 PM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    I think that you are getting very confused about what you are being told here, so I am going to make it as simple as possible.

    The only opinion that matters is that of your employer. Right, wrong or indifferent is irrelevant. Your employer calls the shots. They have decided that John's services and skills are more valuable than those of others and they wish to retain them. They have decided that his opinions count more than yours. They don't find what he says objectionable. In other words, boiling this down, the employer is happy with your colleague. So your opinion is irrelevant. It is nothing. What you think about what people should think or do doesn't matter one iota.

    If this is not acceptable to you... Tough. Get another job if this isn't how you wish to work. But the employer does not change for an employee. And no amount of ranting on a anonymous forum is going to change that.

    And as for him being a tattle tale- you don't appear to be above that yourself, so that's the kettle calling the pot. You've just spent several pages listing all his faults and errors - in your opinion. If that isn't tattling.....?

    So it's very simple. He is valued more than you. Nobody cares what your opinion of this is. If you don't like it, find another job. Any other option is one that will backfire on you. And you know this. And if everything got say about him is true, and even if that is all stuff that nobody likes, you are still coming across as just as bad - you are being petty and vindictive, based on your personal prejudices, which is exactly what you are accusing him of being.
    Originally posted by sangie595
    @Sangie565 - Thank you for your honesty! It's what I needed to hear. Yes, I freely admit that I am resentful of Senior-John as it appears that his promotion has no substance at all, but the company is just desperate to keep "someone" who has some knowledge of how things work already, given our abysmal recruiting record in the last couple of years (employees lasted: 5 months, half a day (!), 2 months, 3 days, 7 months,... etc) in a role that needs to take in a lot of knowledge and processes, and would need 6 months at the very least to be sort of "up to speed". So he has some sort of idea of what goes on here already and wanted to leave, so they were falling over themselves to keep him -- in spite of the bigoted and borderline illegal views (which I'm not sure management know about, but how on earth could I bring that up?)

    But even so -- his "Senior" position has actually never been communicated to us, the first any of us knew about it was the appearance of "Senior Teapot Analyst" rather than "Teapot Analyst" in an email signature, and as I said, his sudden (from my POV) asking us "whats the status of the XYZ project" with no reason to be asking that. So I just replied with something like "oh, you know, it's getting there but you know how difficult project managers can be! haha" and he reported that to our mutual manager as my being "awkward".
    • silverwhistle
    • By silverwhistle 6th Jul 17, 11:34 PM
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    silverwhistle
    I am by far the most productive and know the most about all the processes (yes, even more then Senior-John!) and so I would be leaving them in the whatsit if I were to leave.
    Originally posted by PossiblyOverworked
    What a delightful situation to be in! If I were you I'd exploit it, whether you stay or go, since you obviously don't enjoy it there.

    Elswhere on these boards someone came up with the concept of saving money in order to have a " F**k O** Fund", so I suggest you take steps to avail yourself of one. The stronger the situation you can put yourself in the better the outcome for you.
    • gettingtheresometime
    • By gettingtheresometime 6th Jul 17, 11:43 PM
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    gettingtheresometime
    @Sangie565 - Thank you for your honesty! It's what I needed to hear. Yes, I freely admit that I am resentful of Senior-John as it appears that his promotion has no substance at all, but the company is just desperate to keep "someone" who has some knowledge of how things work already, given our abysmal recruiting record in the last couple of years (employees lasted: 5 months, half a day (!), 2 months, 3 days, 7 months,... etc) in a role that needs to take in a lot of knowledge and processes, and would need 6 months at the very least to be sort of "up to speed". So he has some sort of idea of what goes on here already and wanted to leave, so they were falling over themselves to keep him -- in spite of the bigoted and borderline illegal views (which I'm not sure management know about, but how on earth could I bring that up?)

    But even so -- his "Senior" position has actually never been communicated to us, the first any of us knew about it was the appearance of "Senior Teapot Analyst" rather than "Teapot Analyst" in an email signature, and as I said, his sudden (from my POV) asking us "whats the status of the XYZ project" with no reason to be asking that. So I just replied with something like "oh, you know, it's getting there but you know how difficult project managers can be! haha" and he reported that to our mutual manager as my being "awkward".
    Originally posted by PossiblyOverworked
    Yes the problem is obviously with him.
    Lloyds OD / Natwest OD / PO CC / Wescott cleared thanks to the 1 debt v 100 day challenge


    Next on the list - the Argos Card!
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 7th Jul 17, 12:03 AM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    The "minor" offences you list which resulted in disciplinary action are all things which most workplaces would consider misconduct however! Being aggressive to a colleague, ignoring the dress code, making personal calls when these are expressly forbidden, capability.

    You on the other hand are raising a subjective judgment issue and unless there is a company policy on the style of formal documents it doesn't meet that benchmark which is why I am saying your expectations are unrealistic.

    If the company genuinely can't cope with staff leaving and John was only promoted to keep him, why don't you offer to resign and see if they offer you the same title? If you are confident that you are a better worker than him, that should resolve the issue once and for all. If you think however they'd be happy to let you go, then that tells you all you need to know.
    Originally posted by Nicki
    OK, then I don't know how I should reply to these people. We are an "ISO" (EU standards with documentation requirements, for anyone not in the know) accredited org and it has "How-To" documents about every conceivable subject. "How to" shape a Teapot Spout (of course in language like "the Teapot Spout Manufacturer will do XYZ and if (s)he encounters an unusual ABC reading then" etc) so that it can pour tea effectively, or whatever... - each process covered by a document. So a colleague asked how to shape a teapot spout as she hadn't done this before, and I referred her to the "Teapot Spout Shaping" ISO document 2.0.4.3.5 (or whatever) and then ask if there are any questions. But she just cried to Senior-John that I was being unhelpful and he got me yet another warning for not sharing knowledge (which was all in the doc) and being patronising.
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 7th Jul 17, 12:10 AM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    Yes the problem is obviously with him.
    Originally posted by gettingtheresometime
    I know (or I think I know!) you are being sarcastic, but why? Am I obviously in the wrong (I'm genuinely asking!)
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 7th Jul 17, 8:06 AM
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    sangie595
    I know (or I think I know!) you are being sarcastic, but why? Am I obviously in the wrong (I'm genuinely asking!)
    Originally posted by PossiblyOverworked
    If you are genuinely asking, the answer is already somewhere several pages back. You already know how powerful language can be - that was ostensibly the reason for this thread. But the language that you use on here indicates an attitude from you that supports some of the things that your management have been saying. Maybe you don't see it. But if someone told me that they didn't know how to do something, I wouldn't refer them to a set of instructions - I'd get out the instructions and work through them with them to make sure they understood, then say come back if you get stuck. Just a slight investment of time to make someone feel comfortable with a task they haven't done before.

    If this is the way you normally deal with people, you aren't making any friends.
    • Nicki
    • By Nicki 7th Jul 17, 8:38 AM
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    Nicki
    I know (or I think I know!) you are being sarcastic, but why? Am I obviously in the wrong (I'm genuinely asking!)
    Originally posted by PossiblyOverworked
    You've had multiple disciplinaries arising out of the complaints from more than just your line manager and John, so yes you clearly are not performing in the way both your employer and your colleagues are entitled to expect.

    Given that one of those disciplinaries was actually about not just referring your colleagues to an ISO document when asked for guidance I'm surprised you are still saying that you don't know what to do in that circumstance! Surely as part of the disciplinary when they were trying to address your obstructive behaviour, they indicated what was expected?

    As you also had a warning for not answering John's question about how your projects were progressing, it is clear that he was entitled and did have the authority to ask you that question, so again why are you still maintaining that he does not? If you genuinely can't see the problems with your behaviour, you have bigger issues at work than the use of (s)he in official documents!
    • gettingtheresometime
    • By gettingtheresometime 7th Jul 17, 9:07 AM
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    gettingtheresometime
    I know (or I think I know!) you are being sarcastic, but why? Am I obviously in the wrong (I'm genuinely asking!)
    Originally posted by PossiblyOverworked
    If you are genuinely asking, the answer is already somewhere several pages back. You already know how powerful language can be - that was ostensibly the reason for this thread. But the language that you use on here indicates an attitude from you that supports some of the things that your management have been saying. Maybe you don't see it. But if someone told me that they didn't know how to do something, I wouldn't refer them to a set of instructions - I'd get out the instructions and work through them with them to make sure they understood, then say come back if you get stuck. Just a slight investment of time to make someone feel comfortable with a task they haven't done before.

    If this is the way you normally deal with people, you aren't making any friends.
    Originally posted by sangie595


    Thank you Sangie for putting it so politely!


    OP - if you'd said that to me then I may not have reported the conversation but I would have thought you were an unhelpful mare who needed to learn the art of team work.


    You obviously have an issue with a) John b) his promotion and c) the company in general. You need another job - or better still to set up your own company so you can run it the way you wish
    Lloyds OD / Natwest OD / PO CC / Wescott cleared thanks to the 1 debt v 100 day challenge


    Next on the list - the Argos Card!
    • getmore4less
    • By getmore4less 7th Jul 17, 9:08 AM
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    getmore4less
    That's a good question and there are 2 answers (I don't know which takes priority in my mind, really) 1. I am actively taking courses and studying things that could lead to a career in the "teapot" design industry elsewhere, so until I finish them I am just biding my time (don't want an unnecessary job-hopping arrangement on my CV),


    carefully selected jobs are not a problem expereince is more valuable that quals in most industries.



    and 2. I feel like if I leave they will be a bit screwed,

    Get that out of your head that is not your problem.

    even if I'm not the most popular person I am by far the most productive and know the most about all the processes (yes, even more then Senior-John!) and so I would be leaving them in the whatsit if I were to leave. There are many times a day I'm asked how to deal with "such and such situation" as managers and colleagues have no idea.
    Originally posted by PossiblyOverworked
    That's the problem you need to fix,

    Clearly you are failing to understand the dynamics of the workplace and how to use that to your advantage to get on get pay rises, more responsibility and opportunities to develop beyond the current envelope.

    You don't have to be liked in a workplace but you do your utmost to not be disliked and it appears you are failing at that.

    If the place is as you describe and you are really as good as you think you are you could have that place eating out of your hand within a couple of months.

    You need to work on why people don't like you and undo that, it most cases it is simply a slight change in attitude, you are not trying to make best friends just to neutralize opinions to start with.
    (sangie covered an example)

    You need to get to the stage where people not only have to come to you but want to.

    There also seems to be another issue that your interactions with more senior management are not that positive mainly warnings and negative stuff.
    One strategy here is to become the go to fixer when the fan is spinning and brown stuff flying and the bosses boss starts to take an interest you are seen to be the one that fixes things or is at least involved, you have to do it silently without upsetting others but just get noticed by the right people.

    There are probably other opportunities, understaffing often throws up productivity issues that can be fixed.

    If people are always asking questions there are issues with training and processes that could be addressed.

    Without knowing a bit more about the environment/products it will be difficult to pindown specific examples.


    From your very first post this sticks in my mind.
    I asked why (in a "what should I do differently next time so you don't have to edit it" way although that was sort of passive aggressive on my part)
    I suspect you come across like this a lot and is the root cause of your likability.

    There is probably also an element of "I am better than all of you" that you can't contain, no one likes a smart !!!.

    One thing I have noticed over the years is those with children tend to have far more empathy for workplace dynamics, I guess they are more used to dealing with tantrums.
    • RuthnJasper
    • By RuthnJasper 7th Jul 17, 11:02 AM
    • 3,617 Posts
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    RuthnJasper
    I haven't been on MSE for a while (been in and out of hospital). Threads like this make me quite sad. With all that's going on in this country and overseas, pages of posts about what is a very trivial issue seem very petty.


    OP - you have two choices, essentially.
    Leave.
    Stay and deal with John with good grace. It's not his fault he was promoted over you and he probably doesn't appreciate a bad atmosphere in the workplace either. Certainly not passive-aggression and the feeling of being undermined.


    Best wishes to you.
    • Malthusian
    • By Malthusian 7th Jul 17, 11:07 AM
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    Malthusian
    If the place is as you describe and you are really as good as you think you are you could have that place eating out of your hand within a couple of months.
    I'm now inclined to believe that the OP might be right about her being indispensible, because it would explain why they keep her around even though they - for whatever reason - have so many problems with her attitude / demeanour. If she was merely average they may already have gotten rid of her. But she is good enough at the nuts and bolts of design and manufacturing that the positives outweigh the negatives.

    If she worked on her teamwork skills in a spirit of genuine desire to grow stronger (as opposed to "I don't need teamworking skills because if I do the job properly everyone is obliged to be happy" - which is an attitude I used to be susceptible to) then perhaps she would have them eating out of her hand after a year. If you are good at one aspect of a job but weak at another then there's nothing like working on the weakness to produce rapid results - it's low-hanging fruit.
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 7th Jul 17, 1:01 PM
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    sangie595
    I'm now inclined to believe that the OP might be right about her being indispensible, because it would explain why they keep her around even though they - for whatever reason - have so many problems with her attitude / demeanour. If she was merely average they may already have gotten rid of her. But she is good enough at the nuts and bolts of design and manufacturing that the positives outweigh the negatives.
    .
    Originally posted by Malthusian
    And maybe that is why they like John! I don't know whether he is as good at stuff as the OP (they say not, but that may not be true) but maybe he is the turn to person because the OP isn't.
    • silverwhistle
    • By silverwhistle 7th Jul 17, 1:30 PM
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    silverwhistle
    But if someone told me that they didn't know how to do something, I wouldn't refer them to a set of instructions - I'd get out the instructions and work through them with them to make sure they understood, then say come back if you get stuck. Just a slight investment of time to make someone feel comfortable with a task they haven't done before.
    Originally posted by sangie595
    If I were busy I might send they away to have a look through it first, with a sympathetic laugh about how indigestible it was, and arrange a more convenient time in the very near future to review it. You'd welcome their initial thoughts etc..

    But I agree with sangie that there appears to be lots of um... friction in your dealings with other people.
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