Monday, February 14, 2011

Rant: On being genuine in the workplace

This rant turns out to be about why if you aren't able to be genuine you shouldn't try because you will end up confusing your philosophy-student coworkers. That isn't really what was intended. The advice it is based on is 'when you see a coworker say hello, greet them by name.' What you should learn from this post, if you are following that advice, is not to assume your coworker is stupid.

'Hel-LOO, Jesse!'

Said loudly by one of my co-workers as I walk into the kitchen.

This should make me feel recognised and respected. The goal of such a greeting, I have just learned, is to do that. Recognising the people around you and using their names makes them feel like they count for something.

It is certain people use a certain tone and suddenly I feel like I am in some sort of psychology experiment, that I'm being tested, that I'm being tricked into believing something that is not true, that this person who is greeting me is disingenuous.

I know you know my name now but I don't really care if you know my name. You can call me miss for our entire acquaintence if you want. My trouble is that you aren't looking at me, and I'm not even sure if you really remember who I am or what I do here.

You show interest in my interests. I try to explain something I care about, although I would prefer you spoke instead so I could understand you. My explanation is poor. I can tell you don't understand but I do not get the opportunity to correct myself.
You agree that that is very interesting and tell me that you are going to upgrade your math, imply that I am much cleverer then you for making you confused a moment ago. You have no love of learning, and so instead of speaking of something we both care about, like how to cook pastries, we have discussed what I am interested in, because you do not realise I could care about the same things as you, because you are only pretending I am a person.

The thing is, you don't need to do this. You don't need to know my name. Other people care, but I don't. I'm here to make sure things go smoothly in my section of the kitchen. That's my job and I'm here to do my job. I don't need you to pretend for me.

But now I know! From now on I will assume those who great me with that certain sort of 'hello, Jesse!' are slightly socially inept and making an effort to do better. Or it is just habit.

Really it is quite possible that they are at work for the same reason I am, to do a job and do it well, and that we don't really have any interest in each other aside from a vague concern that maybe there is another person over there and maybe we should have remembered their name.