Why can’t I cut anyone any slack? I have this view of myself as being incredibly conscientious. I know on a rational level that this cannot be true given how absent-minded I can be, except that, no matter where I am or what I am doing, you can be sure my brain is on overtime, analyzing myself and how am I coming across, how much space my body is taking up, how others might perceive the words I am saying, being sure to phrase things in a very specific and intentional way to limit the risk of being misunderstood. On an intellectual level, I know that my experiences are not universal and yet I subconsciously hold everyone else to this same standard.
I have a meeting this morning with a consultant my company was working with. I interviewed with her before I got the job and I think she was instrumental in my getting hired. I like her a lot. We do the same work and speak the same language and, while verbal communication can often be pretty taxing, speaking with her is energizing. It’s exciting! It’s actually fun!
But today I am annoyed. We’ve booked out six different virtual meetings to transfer the work she’s been doing over to me but none of the meetings in my calendar contain a location so I have no way to join any of the meetings until she sends the zoom link, which, evidently, she typically sends at the start time of each meeting. My coworker suggested she might have other meetings going on so she does it this way to avoid potentially having two different clients join the same zoom session. Having managed booking sessions on zoom, I know that’s entirely avoidable, but I didn’t push it.
I think this morning was my third or fourth of six meetings and, in addition to sending the link at the absolute last minute, she’s now sent the link for two meetings to my personal email address, which is an understandable mistake since that’s how we communicated before I was hired, which is why, the first time it happened, I responded from my personal address with my work email and let her know. Then it happened again, so I forwarded the email to myself and joined the meeting. But this morning it happened a third time and this is where I am getting really frustrated with myself.
I could have responded again and asked again for her to please remember to email my work email address since I don’t like to be in the habit of having to check my personal communications throughout the day. But that’s the thing. I have my phone with me at all times and I check it constantly. I saw when she sent the emails. But, on principle, I should be working from my work email and using personal email for personal matters, so when she sent the zoom link to my personal email address for our meeting this morning, I just pretended I didn’t get it. I expected that she would wait for a few minutes and then, when I didn’t show, I assumed she would check her email to make sure she sent the link and then realize she sent it to the wrong address.
I waited for five minutes and did not hear from her, so my next tactic was to email her from my work email asking if she had a link because I hadn’t seen one come through. I figured if she would notice the address I was sending it from and that would be another clue for her to check her email and make sure she sent it to the right place. She responded with the link a few minutes later and I even waited for another few minutes—to punish her, I guess?—before joining. Did I mention any of this when I joined the call? Absolutely not. I am meeting with her again later on in the week and I already know that every detail to this whole song and dance is going to be repeated. So why couldn’t I just ask her to please make sure to send it to the right place next time? I even emailed her from my personal account a couple hours later to apologize for missing the link she sent there as yet another clue for her to realize her mistake and subsequently course correct but she responded back with something work related so, like, I’m not even accomplishing what I set out to do with all my indirect passive aggressive manipulation tactics.
Why am I like this?
This theme of trying to get my needs met without having to verbalize them is going to be the death of me. Why is it so hard for me to just state what I need? Is this related to the trauma of an early childhood where many of my needs were not being met so I learned to feel shame for even having needs? Is this a neurodivergent struggle that I just haven’t seen anyone talking about yet on TikTok? (Except that idea literally came from there lol)l
How often have I said I’m not a mind-reader? In my last job, I had to contend with a LOT of communication that was indirect or implied, and I was constantly reminding everyone to be direct and explicit. I would even play dumb and ask for clarification even if I knew what they were asking, thinking that the process of having to clarify might make them be clearer next time. I’m not a mind-reader… but no one else is, either. How ironic that I would voice my irritation over indirect communication in the very manner I found so offensive in the first place. And they never changed! So you would think that, coming into this new environment, I would learn to alter my approach. You would think that my own struggle to communicate my need for direct communication would give me some compassion for others who struggle to communicate directly but, I think I might think that my struggle is their fault. If they communicated in a direct manner in the first place, I would then feel safe communicating that way. That’s the logic I’m peddling to myself right now, anyway, but part of me thinks that if I could just take the first step and just be what I am expecting of others, then they would follow suit. And there’s another louder part of me that’s just wondering why? Why am I like this? Why is this a struggle? Why am I even thinking about this at all? How is this tiny non-issue so adept at hijacking my headspace?