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When to confide or seek emotional support in colleagues?

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Hello guys,

Tonight, I have been social climbed by my nasty social climber  (reminder: sub-category of taker) supervisor F. during our evening meeting, I felt a bit down. Because she lied at the meeting, she interrupted me and it started to affect me. She's maneuvering all day long, short-circuiting, etc. Very disagreeable behavior. Not collaborative at all. I'll write about her later as I think there's much to learn from her. I mean: she'll collaborate for a while when she wants something, then be competitive when she's in a group setting and wants to shine.

There's a female colleague of the same rank, let's call her resident mom A. There's a certain level of trust between us but I'm not 100% sure I can trust her. Anyway, as I felt down I went to her for some emotional support. I told her: I need some support. I told her about all the maneuvering, the lying, etc. as I got sick of it. She listened to me but said that "she never worked with her". So I was relieved that I could pour my heart out but in a way, I'm not 100% sure that she's on my side. When I asked her what she thinks she did not really commit to me. I understand, it's smart strategically to not pick side. However, I thought she was my ally and now I'm having doubts about it. I think that if she needs to use this information for her gain, she will.

She has quite low self-esteem and I think she's envious of me in a way. She's warm and all but I think she thinks "I'm the guy who always wants to learn and move forward" and to some people it's annoying because they might feel inferior.

Anyway, my question is: what is your strategy with dealing with emotional distress at work?

Do you keep it to yourself and share it with friends outside of work? Do you share it with trustworthy people outside of your team?

Any rule of thumb?

Because I know that if she knows what I think of her, she might retaliate. Either in this rotation or when I'll be at the intensive care rotation where she works as well.

I think it was a mistake to confide in this colleague as I gave her way too much power over me. I think I was right to confide to someone at work. I just chose the wrong person. The problem is that within your own team are the people who can understand what is going on.

Personally just about any time I've confided in somebody at work its been used against me.  Not often word for word.  More just a comment said to a manager 'I think it was a tough week for John'  Then of course the manager is going to ask questions.

I think its good to network in your profession and then hopefully that leads to friendships.  Then you've got somebody who understands your very specialised and close world that you can talk to.

If you don't have that I'd still pick a friend outside of work.   And then if you don't have that, the other option is online - you can vent on your journal threads and people will give support.  I still have a somewhat redpill forum where I can vent when the passive aggressiveness of my female 'colleagues' gets me down.  I whinge on my match thread at my tennis forum when I've played like a 5 year old, etc.

With supervisor F you might go on a 'charm offensive' and have a big 'humble pie' dinner- say look you've been it through it you know how tough it is starting out.  It's not always easy teaching people.  And  I admit sometimes the student doctors are a bit ungrateful.  So I just wanted to give you this little thank you (expensive chocolates or whatever)  I really appreciate you sharing your time and experience - I've learnt a lot.

 

Hey John,

Yeah, it's great to have someone close at work with whom to confide and share strategies.

Some rules that make for a great confidant/ally:

  • Your same rank
  • Not in direct competition
  • Similar personality
  • Feels somewhat similarly
  • Trusted (of course)

Something to also keep in mind:

  • Do not limit the relationship to complaints: it might turn negative, can exacerbate your feelings of dislike for the job, and the people
  • Avoid making it "us VS the company": that's equally poisonous, both mentally, and politically, since eventually, people will catch on

Personally, I think that the rule of thumb to know when it's safe to trust someone is pretty much when you think they're on the way to becoming friends. Friends share their grievances as well as a natural part of being friends.

Matthew Whitewood, John Freeman and Transitioned have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodJohn FreemanTransitioned
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks a lot for your great answer, very helpful!

What do you think of confiding in someone:

  1. Within the team
  2. Outside the team but same organization
  3. Outside work

How would you rank them or categorize them?

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on January 23, 2021, 1:31 am

Some rules that make for a great confidant/ally:

  • Not in direct competition

I think that is what was missing. She's part of the majority of medical student who've been brainwashed in scarcity and competition. That is why the chief physician threw me under the bus: it's because it's a button that's been pressed over and over. I think that's why I was uneasy with her in the end. I chose the wrong person but it could have been worse.

It could be challenging to rank them because the nature of the relationship would be quite different.

Outside Work

Outside work is usually safest but more challenging to discuss internal strategies which only your coworkers have access to.

Outside the team but same organization

I would find someone who would mutually benefit from exchanging information across teams or department.
There are some risks as interests always change.

Within the team

A fellow teammate can be your greatest collaborator and greatest competitor at the same time.
You have similar interests and goals so you can help each other to achieve those goals.
At the same time, due to the limited upper positions and resources, you can end up competing as well.

I would usually look out for teammates with similar interests & views towards the team but different career & personal goals.
For example, both of you have similar views towards where the team should move towards.
However, one of you would like to become a manager while the other would like to climb the specialist or individual contributor ladder.

One way to test the trustworthiness would be to let them know about a piece of non-critical but slightly valuable information.
Then ask them to keep this information secret and see if this information spreads around.
For example,

I have been studying how to improve this process.
I would like to share this with you, and let's keep this between us for now.
I would like to hear your thoughts and refine this before we share it with the rest of the team.

I did this with one of my teammates in the past.
Shortly after, she emailed the whole team on this information and CCed me in the email.

Lucio Buffalmano and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoJohn Freeman
Hello Matthew,
thanks for your great answer!
Quote from Matthew Whitewood on January 23, 2021, 11:15 am

I would usually look out for teammates with similar interests & views towards the team but different career & personal goals.

Key general principle. In my particular situation it is the case: she wants to be attending physician in a small hospital, I want to leave the country!

One way to test the trustworthiness would be to let them know about a piece of non-critical but slightly valuable information.
Then ask them to keep this information secret and see if this information spreads around.

Excellent strategy. I think it's fair. It prevents lose-win and is the opportunity of a win-win.

For example,

I have been studying how to improve this process.
I would like to share this with you, and let's keep this between us for now.
I would like to hear your thoughts and refine this before we share it with the rest of the team.

Was this said verbally or in written form?

I did this with one of my teammates in the past.
Shortly after, she emailed the whole team on this information and CCed me in the email.

Well, at least she CCed you. So she was a taker but not of the worst kind. She at least kept you in the loop. I'm not excusing her, it's a shit behavior. I'm evaluating the degree of nastiness of this behavior and I would say mild-to-medium.

So she claimed the idea as it was her own? How did you react after that?

Was this said verbally or in written form?

Written form and verbally again before we proceeded on a verbal sharing.

Well, at least she CCed you. So she was a taker but not of the worst kind. She at least kept you in the loop. I'm not excusing her, it's a shit behavior. I'm evaluating the degree of nastiness of this behavior and I would say mild-to-medium.

So she claimed the idea as it was her own? How did you react after that?

She couldn't claim the idea as her own because she did not understand the full details.
I think she wanted to loop me in the email while trying to get some credit out of the idea.

It was politically dangerous because people would think "why is he sharing this information with her first and not us?".
That was my main concern.
Losing a bit of leverage with the information was not a big deal.

I framed my finding as still tentative and our discussion as by chance.

Thanks (name), what a coincidence that I ran into you and got your thoughts on my tentative findings while I was in the middle of it.
I am still evaluating how good this is and wanted to share it with the rest of the team when it's more substantial. (Indirectly saying "This would save everyone's time and set us with the right expectations.")
I'll be finishing this up in the next day or two.

Matthew: A fellow teammate can be your greatest collaborator and greatest competitor at the same time.

Yes, in teams where people share your same tasks, this is true.

There are exceptions, though. For example, one of my confidantes / ally was a guy in the same team, but with a different position and career track (financial analyst VS sales).

His success/promotion or my success/promotion weren't going to harm each other but, if anything, empower each other.

Alliances and unwritten alliances are a very important topic as well, but not going to get into that or we'd go off-topic.

Matthew: Shortly after, she emailed the whole team on this information and CCed me in the email.

EDIT: wrote this before I saw Matthew's second reply, and had apparently misunderstood the situation.

Wow, next level betrayal bitch move.

Personally, I don't think that CCing made the move less nasty.
She probably put you in CC as a way of saying "now it's my idea, so you can stop developing and don't go pitching it like it's yours". Knowing the idea was already assigned to her, you'd probably avoid talking about it or presenting it later on as "yours", since you know people think it's not.

In a twisted way, that actually made it easier for her to appropriate the idea, while avoiding publicly embarrassing situations down the road where you could have talked about the idea to someone, and then you'd be forced to say "actually no, she didn't come up with it, I came up with it first".
You wouldn't have evidence maybe, but that would still tarnish her reputation somewhat.

Putting you in CC made the appropriation a clearer cut, and far smoother.

However, even from a Machiavellian point of view, it was a poor move, in my opinion: unless that power move granted her an immediate promotion, which probably it didn't, it was a small advantage for her, but coming at a very high cost.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

EDIT: wrote this before I saw Matthew's second reply, and had apparently misunderstood the situation.

I don't think you misunderstood the situation.

We agreed to keep the information between us, and she not only broke the agreement but also wanted to claim credit for the idea.

I also felt that she could CC me in the email because she thought that she could publicly claim a lot of credit by putting things out in the open.
I believe that she wanted to claim 80% of the credit while I took like 20%.
She framed herself as the big-picture idea person while I was the person who took care of the details.
Definitely not the impression I want to portray to the boss and the team.

However, even from a Machiavellian point of view, it was a poor move, in my opinion: unless that power move granted her an immediate promotion, which probably it didn't, it was a small advantage for her, but coming at a very high cost.

Sharing that information was in a way a risk to evaluate how much I can trust her.
I found out that I could not trust her, which is important for longer-term politics.

My ex-boss always wanted his subordinates to keep everyone in the loop for emails.
One time when I sent him an email individually, he once told me "Always good to keep the team in the loop." and replied with CC to everyone.
He didn't realise that people were less willing to share information with him because of this.

I wanted to frame my reply to that email in a way suggesting that I was not keeping information from the team.
She was being sneaky about this as well as the email implicitly suggested that I was the one being secretive while she was very open with the team.

Matthew: Sharing that information was in a way a risk to evaluate how much I can trust her.
I found out that I could not trust her, which is important for longer-term politics.

Just to be clear: I meant that it was a bad move from her to try and appropriate the idea, not from you.
On your end, it was a very smart test, and you acquired great intelligence.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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