Monday, December 20, 2010

Why I'll Never Be an Administrator

I'm feeling tired and icky today - diarrhea to be perfectly frank - which is probably mostly due to the fact that I had an Abraxane treatment three days ago.

The lack of sleep, though, is catching up to me, too. Friday night, after the treatment, I may have only had about 5 hours sleep. On Saturday, it was about 7 - stayed up too late (after 11pm) and then couldn't get back to sleep. Last night, I went to bed at 10:30pm and woke up at 3am (a good stretch for me), went back to sleep and then woke up again at 5:30am and couldn't get back to sleep.

You see, I've been dealing with some professional poliics from afar. I don't think I can divulge too many details because if I do, people might be able to figure out who I'm referring to. Suffice it to say that this person's (a man, if you must know, who is part of that old boys' network) personal opinions about a situation (including root case of the problem and the solution) is coloring whether or not he can give me and my colleague an objective opinion. He seems to be missing the point and he wants my colleague and I to focus on issues that detract from our main point. I personally feel like he's a bully. But no one seems to want to call him on his s*#t. So, he continues to get away with it. Pisses me off.

This is about the third or fourth academic I've known who have tended to make trouble (whether intentionally or not, but mostly intentionally) for their colleagues. But since the trouble or issue usually happens in one-on-one situations, the other non-difficult colleagues assume that it is just a personality difference between them and the difficult person so they don't say anything to anyone. The end result is that the difficult person goes to the next colleague and makes life difficult for them. It wasn't until after the difficult person made life difficult for me that I found out from others how that same difficult person made life hard for others.

But, you see, in the name of professionalism and collegiality, we don't talk about these individuals. The end result that they continue to do things in a way that is unprofessional and often unethical. They get away with this behavior, all because the non-difficult people think that it is just a result of a personality conflict they have with the difficult person.

I, for one, believe in telling it like it is because I don't want to cause anyone else to have to deal with the difficult person's BS. But unfortunately, that's not professional.

In my current situation, I feel like my hands are tied. I can't do anything about it (like forcing this guy out of his position of power), so I did the only thing I could which was to respond, calmly, and tell him that he is missing the point - I responded to his BS by telling him that I am not going to include his issues in my revisions because his issues are irrelevant. It's apparent that no one else will do anything about it. My colleague can't because her own position is tenuous. I can because I am in a secure position.

This is why I can't be an administrator or involved in politics. I don't have the patience for these kinds of games.


Kitchen Patrol said...

I have run into far too many people like this in academia. They get away with murder. Sometimes they are even incompetent and get away with that, too. Personally I have found that the only way to deal with bullies is to call them on their bs, immediately and to their face. Basically to treat them like the toddlers they are behaving like. Of course, as you say, sometimes the juice is not worth the squeeze.

laurie said...

I have so been there. I know the type exactly and have worked with him (always a him). I think that KP gave the perfect answer.

Dee said...

Hi Kitchen Patrol and Laurie,
I misspoke a bit. I did respond to this individual by saying that the points he wanted me to address were irrelevant. And, cc'd other interested people on the email response so that it wouldn't fall into a he said/she said situation. I stood up to him, in other words, but there isn't much more I can do.

Dee said...

Oh, but thanks for the support! I appreciate knowing there are other people out there who are willing to call people like this on their BS.

MisAnthropology said...

Oh man, Dee... I grew up hearing about these sorts of folk. My memory of my teens and young adulthood is marked by memories of dinner table discussions centered on my mother complaining about the critiques of her cultural geographic work on contemporary pilgrimage by a certain historian of pilgrimage. This certain historian of pilgrimage was the bane of her existence for a while, as I remember it. Lordy, lordy (pardon the pun), but you'd think the fate of the "free world" were in the balance regarding something having to do with manifestations of the Virgin, or some such. (Mind you, as a teen, it was mostly all just a droning noise to me, but I think I caught the gist).

I feel your pain. It also clarifies for me why I've not been that ambitious to be a research academic.