No Better

Last night, I worked out some frustrations at the gym, and then came home and cracked open a bottle of red and drank about 1/3 of it with my new wine glass. Well, one of them; there are four in total. Slept well.

Today was better. Had a good breakfast, took my vitamins, got through a bunch of stuff at work. Afternoon brought some bad news from an internal meeting, about the future direction of our location if we don't fix things quickly. Nothing we didn't know already, but with more pressure this time.

And then it got worse. Turns out my Edward Scissorhands victim has quite a few issues with me -- with my title, with me being (7 years) younger than him, with me having a different outlook and approach than him. It's all there, in an email he sent privately to our director. The director's response (where he simply quoted the whole of that original email)?

"Figure it out on your own, kids."

(No, not literally, but pretty much that's what he meant.) So tomorrow, amidst my full day of meetings and other tasks that he's just shrugged off, I have to figure it all out with him. Lovely.

Maybe I go and finish off that bottle tonight.


Anonymous said...

LOL. I don't know if what your Director did is a good thing or not. But it definitely brought things out in the open.

I notice, or from what I hear via my friends' business escapades in Asia, that it is a very cut-throat-show-me-respect world. Where age and title is a very big thing. It's more difficult for them to grasp the concept of a younger fellow outranking them.

How my friend chose to deal with it, was to wait for the right moment -- usually after the first condescending introductory meeting where the head of another corporate branch thinking he has more seniority and experience shoots his mouth off. My friend will patiently let him finish then rip into him with such niceties. No yelling, jsut stating the facts: his background, title, experience. Usually, leaving the smugged faced arrogant one feeling so humbling embarrassed and crest-fallen.

Perhaps your best route is go talk to the guy and see what's eating him.

- aliasa

Ben said...

I had a quick chat with the director -- I cleared up some misrepresentations in the email, without trying to justify myself, because dammit, I don't need to. He didn't mean to quote the whole thing at all. I like talking to my director; he's supportive and unbiased and bases his understandings on facts wherever possible.

And though I understand the age/title importance in Asia, this guy is European. Funny, because his email had stuff all over it about how he's travelled Asia and has been working since 1992, blahblahblah, that he figures he knows Asian culture. Particularly funny, since his daily comments are about how stupid the Taiwanese systems are, and how stupid the Taiwanese people are, and other such negative remarks. I mean, dude, I'M Asian (-Canadian) ... are you telling me that your little escapades through a few countries makes you the expert over someone who's been brought up with the culture ingrained in me?

Anyway, it's not about getting all personal -- I'm better than that. I'm a soft-spoken guy in person, and there are never really any situations where yelling / throwing a tantrum can overpower some well-chosen phrases.

Must compose myself. Must finish this bottle.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, it's not about getting all personal -- I'm better than that.

Good for you! Well articulated phrases always work. More power to you. :)

I think the unhappiest and the insecure will always say belittling words to make themselves or their situations feel/seem better.

- aliasa

James said...

Having the director on your side makes a big difference. I think you're doing a good job, just keep the personal stuff out and use the facts.

Momcy said...

Ben, I don't know if we seniors are a bit demanding! I also find young people now a day have no respect to us. Especially, the one just came out of school. Instead of wait in line, they try to jump line just because they think they are smarter than us. Ben, I don't know you well, so I don't know what to say! Be patient and carry a down to earth attitute!?

Rich and Angel said...

Age and respect and super executive vice president titles are one thing, but are you more competent than him? Don't fight him on his turf as you can't win. Attack his weaknesses with your strengths.

Remind him of what things were like when he was 30 and an older subordinate told him off.

Momcy, in the tech world, the guys coming out of school sometimes have more up to date training than people who have been in the field for several years so it's not a fair comparison to traditional business environments.

I like anonymouse #1's comments. Wait for the right moment BUT feel free to poke logical holes in his argument and back up with examples.

Or, you can disarm the situation by stating, "Look, I know that business in Asia is cut-throat-show-my-VP title-respect-world with people trying to stab each other in the back (subtlely point to print out of email) and I'm beyond that and would like to think that you are too. You have issues with my business strategy. Let's discuss it and for the sake of playing devil's advocate, let's argue each other's side. I'll come up with reasons to support your idea and you come up with reasons to support mine. That way we can see things objectively and not defensively."

He'll look stupid if he can't come up with one good idea and this is a classic brainwashing technique the Chinese used to use on POW's. Make the prisoner state something that is true and positive about the very thing he is attacking and then make him say something that is somewhat negative about his own ideas that are true.

By offering a positive idea to his recommendation you are engaging in reciprocity. You are going the distance. If he fails to reciprocate, he will be seen as unreasonable and uncompromising and you can use this against him.

Read Cialdini's Psychology of Persuasion. Lots of fun reading.

Rich and Angel said...

Hey, if he's your subordinate, can't you just fire his ass?

Anonymous said...

finish the bottle dude

hougee said...

drinking at home alone sux... at least invite a friend or two. :D

Ben said...

He's not my subordinate at all; he's my equal (in the org chart). But our areas of influence, shall I say, are different: I manage the operations, HR, and business / financial aspects of this location; he manages the technical portions and daily operation of the lab and the equipment in it.

Wow, it's interesting how most everyone's responses are about some way of retaliating in kind ... except for the intriguing "trading places" type of approach. I've decided to try this in a more open manner to see if there's still some way of salvaging our work. Kind of an outreach program, if you will.

Rich and Angel said...

Invite him out to lunch.

Rose said...

Ben, I just have one thing to say -becareful of what you post on your blog (esp. work related issues) because ANYONE can access it. It's a small world...

Rich and Angel said...

I agree. That's why I changed the url for my blog to something that can't be guessed at random.

Ce said...

Hougee says: "drinking at home alone sux... at least invite a friend or two. :D"

I agree. But more specifically, ensure it's two, not just one, and that they're both HAWT! :P