In 2012 I purposefully climbed down the "corporate ladder" to lessen stress while I was working full time and working on my BFA in graphic design. I left a Coordinator position and took a very large step down to being a secretary. I was a secretary for several years before moving slowly up to Coordinator. The last year and a half has been quite a learning experience.
I forgot the amount of bullying secretaries receive. I was a secretary at a manufacturing company in the maintenance department, then at a church, and then for years in a University (which is where I am right now). But the treatment is the exact same. Looking back, it's kind of funny thinking about being the secretary in the maintenance department - the secretary for the administrative offices actually looked down on me and would try to push me around. I never let her. But I never understood why the two of us couldn't get along considering we had the same job. The receptionist and I had a great time together; why couldn't we work together, band together considering that our jobs were basically the lowest on that corporate ladder? Secretaries are powerful entities, always be kind to them.
In academia, and I can only speak at the university level, the secretarial work I've done has always been looked down upon. Second-rate human being. Not as smart as the guy with the master's degree, and certainly not as smart as the guy with the PhD. Yet without the administrative staff those grants would never been applied to or received, budgets would never be handled, etc. You see the point here.
My personal rule is if you ask me politely I'll work with you easily. If we build a relationship from there, and you get to know me even though in the workplace I'm not your equal, I'll probably do more than you expect me to do. Most likely at that point we have mutual respect for each other and express gratitude for what each other does. Most of the people I work with are like this. They're funny and smart and they want me to feel involved in what they do. They always thank me for my work, even when it is my regular duty. It creates a certain amount of harmony and inclusiveness in the work place.
But there is always one person who feels the need to express his/her "better than you because I'm a director"-ness. That was this morning. I have a lot of respect for the things she does. She's smart. She knows her stuff. She makes a huge impact on the students we work with. But she doesn't know how to work well with others, especially not her peers or the administrative staff. She's offended quite a few people in our office.
We were all very excited to have her come to our office. Her resume and experiences really impressed us. In her interview we all seem to hit it off. We were able to be serious but also joke. The current staff later talked about how nice it was to gel with someone in an interview and feel comfortable with them right away.
I don't know what happened between that interview and her first semester with us. But we've all struggled with her coldness towards her. She likes to try to pit people against each other, but luckily most of us see what she's doing and stop her in her tracks. She tries to be sly, which is the problem I had with her today, by including some people but not others in work related conversations that effect several people. She's manipulative: she is over the top friendly when she needs you to do something for her; but if you say no that smile turns into a sneer.
I don't know why she feels she has to act this way. Maybe she doesn't know she acts this way. But I have a feeling she does. I think she likes it, sort of. Like those crazy Housewives of..., they all love/hate the drama, they're addicted to it. My co-worker is addicted to this too. Luckily I know what I'm doing. I'm flexible, but if a project isn't going to work or I can't work for her she just has to deal with that. I'm not going to be her doormat because she gets cranky.
Hee hee, cranky.