I remember the day I confronted a co-worker at my internship about her rude tone of voice with me. It was something as simple as her asking me to stop putting together my papers because it was distracting for her during shift change. Mind you, she wasn’t the one taking shift change but I stopped what I was doing immediately. I would have no problem being asked politely to stop but her tone and body language was very condescending and rude.
I asked to speak with her privately and when I told her how it made me feel, she responded by saying that any other staff member would say what she said and that she didn’t do anything wrong. She totally disregarded my feelings and didn’t even apologize for making me feel uncomfortable. She could have said that it wasn’t her intention to make me feel that way but instead she asked for more example of how she made me feel. I told her it’s the small things – eye contact when she says hello or acknowledging me when she says bye to leave.
I also pointed out that I felt unsupported by her when I asked her for feedback about an activity I ran with clients that she observed me participate in. Instead of giving me feedback about my interaction with the clients, she told me that I should ask someone at the beginning of the shift to give me feedback at the end of the shift. What kind of feedback is that? She had the time to give me feedback about asking a designated person to give me feedback, when she could have just told me herself what she liked or disliked about my interactions with the clients.
I had told my supervisor and manager that I was most concerned about her gossiping about me and being passive aggressive. Was I ever right about the passive aggressive! On my last day of placement, during team meeting, the manager had announced it was my last day (only after asking everyone if there were any other issues or concerns that needed to be addressed). It was at that very moment that this co-worker had to interrupt to bring up an issue about emptying a container by the water cooler that was attracting flies.
I was like REALLY? Was it that important that she couldn’t wait until the announcement was over? But I just kept my mouth shut and knew that the team would notice how passive aggressive this woman really is. I knew that if I wasn’t able to stand up for myself that day, I wouldn’t be able to stand up for the children and youth I’d be working with in the future.
It was one of the most difficult days in my life. People often think I’m this insecure, shy and weak person because I have this calm, quiet and laid back personality but they underestimate how strong and powerful I can really be.
I always remember that day every time I need to find the strength and courage to stand up for anyone who is ever disrespected.