I may have gone too far
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Yesterday, I was in my boss's office, and he got around to his usual complaining about things he had already complained about to me before in great detail. It was all stuff I'd heard before so I was getting a little impatient. I tried to get him to move on by nodding, acknowledging that I understood, reiterating that I sympathized, having had similar experiences before myself. He countered in somewhat angry tones that I wasn't him and I wasn't being very unsympathetic. (I had exactly the same experience in a different job. The only difference is that I changed jobs within 3 months of it occurring because I knew it wasn't going to get better. It was hardly sympathetic of him to imply that things like this don't matter if they happen to me. )
I decided it was time to take a chance, so I told him that he had a choice of accepting or taking definitive action. He countered that I was accusing him of being all talk, that I didn't know the half of what he had already done or was doing now, and that he had thought this through to a far greater extent than I ever could. (I would hope so, considering that it's his problem, not mine.) Punch line: At that point I became flippant, and I asked him point blank why he bothered talking to me if I was unsympathetic and stu... (He has asked me for my opinion on things many times before, and I have been extremely patient and sympathetic in the past; I'm just not up to it right now.)
He then became very angry and told me that his current situation and my past one were in no ways comparable, that I was showing disrespect for him and that I had become very difficult lately. Did I go too far? (Seriously though, if I am that deficient as a confidante, why has he been confiding in me all this time - nearly 2 years - ?)
I have been very honest and open with him, and I cautioned him months ago that my husband's deployment to the Middle East would likely be very difficult for me (I have separation anxiety issues; a story for another time), and that being a single Mom, even for just 6 months, would force me to set stricter boundaries around my work hours so I could be there for the kids. (I'm back in physical therapy, by the way, because I can't relax my shoulders and neck, and I hurt.)
I have told him gently and in plain English that the constant negativity of the office environment is grinding me down and depressing me at the moment when I have so much else on my mind. I have tried to encourage him in gentler ways to be a little less forthcoming with me about his problems because it's too much for me right now. (I'm really a lot more positive on days when I don't have to listen to him at length.)
I was in a much better mood several hours later (after my third good run this week!). We were both leaving the building at the same time. He had worked out too and was in a much better mood. I acknowledged that I may have intended to shock him just a little (After all, how else do I convince him at this point that he needs to find a way to vent his frustrations that doesn't involve leaning on me...) He said in a friendly way that he was never shocked (!?!?). He wished me and the kids a good weekend, I reciprocated, and we went our separate ways.
Did I go too far? What would you have done in my situation?