Author Topic: Should I have said something?  (Read 2913 times)

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Mental Magpie

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Should I have said something?
« on: May 09, 2013, 07:49:32 PM »
For those of you who don't know, I work in a prison.  This changes the dynamics of the work place just a little as far as what can/should and cannot/should not be said in front of inmates.  Generally speaking, any staff disagreements should be handled out of earshot and, if possible, out of eyesight of the offenders.  This is why a) I did not say anything immediately when it happened and b) I think my coworker was out of line.

I was standing at my post performing quick searches of satchels my coworker was handing to the inmates.  There are approximately 10 different coworkers who hand out these satchels once and sometimes twice a day*.  One of the inmates was supposed to have received something in his satchel a week or so ago.  I thought I was being helpful by telling her in brief words that he had been checking for a week.  Up until now, I've never had any of the coworkers tell me that it was annoying for me to do that.  I honestly thought I was being helpful.  Her snotty reply was, "It's OK, he can talk."  I was taken aback at her tone AND the fact that she had talked to me like that in front of inmates.

I debated on saying something once inmates weren't around.  Was it the worst thing she could have said to me in front of inmates?  Not even close because she didn't undermine me or challenge my authority.  Her tone was snotty enough, though, that one of the inmates (who she couldn't see) made that cat scratching motion and mouthed "meow" (that's how I know it wasn't just me who heard it that way).

This may seem silly, but I seriously debated asking her to not talk to me like that, especially in front of inmates, and if she had a problem would she please address me directly.  I decided not to because it wasn't really that big of a deal.  Now I'm not sure if I actually exercised my spine a little by recognizing I could use it or if I folded it meekly away by not saying anything.

Should I have said something or was it better to have not?




*Twice a day during my shift, my coworkers hand out these satchels.  The coworker handing it out could be any of about 10 people.  Sometimes the person who does it in the morning is the same person who does it in the afternoon, but sometimes not.  I mention this because the inmate could have easily asked everyone else but this particular coworker about his missing items.  This is why I thought I was being helpful.
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Hmmmmm

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2013, 09:50:49 PM »
I wouldn't have said anything then but I would follow up the next time in private and say you didn't appreciate her attitude.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2013, 09:55:09 PM »
If this was 'Miss My Way', I would definitely bring it up to her and copy your LT.  If it was someone else, I would talk to her in private but not report to the LT.  It isn't appropriate to speak to you that way in front of the inmates.

You did the right thing by not addressing it at the time.
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JenJay

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2013, 10:35:31 PM »
I wouldn't have said anything then but I would follow up the next time in private and say you didn't appreciate her attitude.

I agree. She may have thought you were undermining her and reacted as such, who knows. The point is, like parents with children, you should always provide a united front and settle disagreements privately at a later time.

I'd say to her "I apologize if I stepped on your toes by pointing out that the inmate was expecting the item. My intent was to be helpful. In the future, if I upset or annoy you, please wait until we have a private moment to discuss it with me. I do not care to have even one inmate aware of any tension between myself and another staff member. Thanks."

Mental Magpie

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2013, 06:23:27 PM »
This is not Miss My Way; I would have gone straight to my Lt. had it been.

Thanks, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't being a doormat.  When you're trying to learn to exercise your spine, sometimes not reacting can seem like you're taking a step backwards.  I think if it happens again, I'll say something once the inmates are gone.



I didn't include this in my post because I didn't think it was relevant.  I don't get along well with the majority of this set of coworkers.  I feel that if I do say something to her, all I will get back is attitude.  That being the case, I hope I can keep my cool and not give it back.  I hope to be able to say something, "You can feel that way all you want, just don't talk to me like that in front of inmates."
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Surianne

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2013, 07:00:39 PM »
I think you did the right thing in not speaking to her in front of the inmates, definitely.

Since it sounds like you haven't had a problem with this coworker in the past, I personally wouldn't say anything to her this time.  It may have been a one-off, brought on by feeling embarrassed when you corrected her, and she might already be regretting it.  Bringing it up may just make the situation worse.

If it happens again, I like JenJay's wording.  And I don't think you'd be wrong or rude to say something now, if you do want to use her wording--it just wouldn't be my choice.

Mental Magpie

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2013, 07:13:45 PM »
I think you did the right thing in not speaking to her in front of the inmates, definitely.

Since it sounds like you haven't had a problem with this coworker in the past, I personally wouldn't say anything to her this time.  It may have been a one-off, brought on by feeling embarrassed when you corrected her, and she might already be regretting it.  Bringing it up may just make the situation worse.

If it happens again, I like JenJay's wording.  And I don't think you'd be wrong or rude to say something now, if you do want to use her wording--it just wouldn't be my choice.

I didn't correct her, though, I just pointed out something she may not know that may have been helpful.  I mention this because, maybe she DID think I corrected her and, if you think I did, would you please explain how so that I can make sure to not do it again in the future?
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TootsNYC

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2013, 08:00:52 PM »
Tone of voice is your tool, I think. Try to make it a question.
"Do you already know/have you already heard...?"

Also, it's interesting that it seems that she thinks the inmate should have been the one to deal with his concern. Maybe she thinks that you were overstepping in some way--infantilizing the inmate, or becoming the inmate's advocate when it was not appropriate, etc. Esp. because you're a guard--the inmate is not your customer; you're not in customer service.

So look at the situation from that point of view as well.

It may not have been about her; it may have been about you.

Mental Magpie

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2013, 08:22:11 PM »
Tone of voice is your tool, I think. Try to make it a question.
"Do you already know/have you already heard...?"

Also, it's interesting that it seems that she thinks the inmate should have been the one to deal with his concern. Maybe she thinks that you were overstepping in some way--infantilizing the inmate, or becoming the inmate's advocate when it was not appropriate, etc. Esp. because you're a guard--the inmate is not your customer; you're not in customer service.

So look at the situation from that point of view as well.

It may not have been about her; it may have been about you.

I know I did something to annoy her even if I thought I was being helpful; that's not the issue.  The issue is how she spoke to me in front of inmates.  That's why I wanted to say something along the lines of "If you have a problem with what I did, please tell me, not snap at me in front of inmates."  However, it is interesting to see what she may have been thinking; doesn't make her reaction any good, but it helps me to understand maybe why she felt she needed to act that way.




(Also, this doesn't bother me but I thought you may want to know that calling a corrections/correctional officer a "guard" is incredibly insulting to many, many, many people.)
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

Surianne

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2013, 09:30:17 PM »
I didn't correct her, though, I just pointed out something she may not know that may have been helpful.  I mention this because, maybe she DID think I corrected her and, if you think I did, would you please explain how so that I can make sure to not do it again in the future?

Oh, I probably should have phrased that better -- I meant that she felt corrected, rather than that I thought you corrected her.  I actually didn't fully understand what you meant in your OP about the man checking for a week.  (Just reread it -- still not sure, maybe some background I'm lacking, or maybe just tiredness on my part.  Was your coworker supposed to bring him something?)  So I wasn't sure if it would come across to her as helpful or something else. 

Like Toots I was also thinking it was probably a tone of voice thing.  Either that you were taking agency away from the man by putting words in his mouth, or you were correcting her in some way.  I have a couple of coworkers who say things that could be interpreted as being helpful in their mind, but because of their tone of voice, they come across like an attempt to show people up. 

JenJay

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2013, 10:06:09 PM »
Maybe she thinks that you were overstepping in some way--infantilizing the inmate, or becoming the inmate's advocate when it was not appropriate, etc.

I think that's very possible.

MM, you know what your intent was, but she didn't, which leaves the situation open to her interpretation. Possibly she's touchy or was having a bad night or has had issues with other new COs. I'd speak to her privately and not offer her any unsolicited advice in the future. She's indicated that she doesn't appreciate it. Others will. As you get to know everyone better you'll be able to discern the "we're a team" coworkers from the "don't step on my toes" coworkers.

emwithme

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2013, 07:55:50 AM »
[(Also, this doesn't bother me but I thought you may want to know that calling a corrections/correctional officer a "guard" is incredibly insulting to many, many, many people.)

I did not know this.  Please could you explain why?  :)

JenJay

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2013, 04:06:07 PM »
[(Also, this doesn't bother me but I thought you may want to know that calling a corrections/correctional officer a "guard" is incredibly insulting to many, many, many people.)

I did not know this.  Please could you explain why?  :)

It's to distinguish between someone who works inside a prison versus someone who does private security (aka a security guard).

edited to add - I hope it's okay that I answered. My DH used to be a CO and I didn't realize there was an issue with "guard" before he started working there, either. He had worked a few different types of security positions before and there's no animosity there, each job is important. A CO, however, is in a much more dangerous position and they are actually law enforcement officers.  :)
« Last Edit: May 12, 2013, 04:09:32 PM by JenJay »

Mental Magpie

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2013, 06:57:15 PM »
[(Also, this doesn't bother me but I thought you may want to know that calling a corrections/correctional officer a "guard" is incredibly insulting to many, many, many people.)

I did not know this.  Please could you explain why?  :)

It's to distinguish between someone who works inside a prison versus someone who does private security (aka a security guard).

edited to add - I hope it's okay that I answered. My DH used to be a CO and I didn't realize there was an issue with "guard" before he started working there, either. He had worked a few different types of security positions before and there's no animosity there, each job is important. A CO, however, is in a much more dangerous position and they are actually law enforcement officers.  :)

I'm glad you answered as I didn't actually know why. I figured people were in a big fuss over political correctness. I see it is a much different situation than I thought.

Personally, I thought it was to differentiate between the old school approach to corrections and the newer, less physically aggressive approach.
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emwithme

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Re: Should I have said something?
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2013, 03:46:30 PM »
[(Also, this doesn't bother me but I thought you may want to know that calling a corrections/correctional officer a "guard" is incredibly insulting to many, many, many people.)

I did not know this.  Please could you explain why?  :)

It's to distinguish between someone who works inside a prison versus someone who does private security (aka a security guard).

edited to add - I hope it's okay that I answered. My DH used to be a CO and I didn't realize there was an issue with "guard" before he started working there, either. He had worked a few different types of security positions before and there's no animosity there, each job is important. A CO, however, is in a much more dangerous position and they are actually law enforcement officers.  :)

I'm glad you answered as I didn't actually know why. I figured people were in a big fuss over political correctness. I see it is a much different situation than I thought.

Personally, I thought it was to differentiate between the old school approach to corrections and the newer, less physically aggressive approach.

Thank you (both) for explaining.  And thank you MM, JenJay's DH and all other Corrections Officers out there.  I'm sure it's a difficult job that doesn't get much in the way of thanks :)