Author Topic: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive  (Read 3591 times)

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chibichan

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S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« on: May 16, 2013, 07:53:22 PM »
I have to deal with a manager who is making me crazy .

My job is to correct problems that I find and to do so , I work closely with Management in many different facilities and departments . None of these problems that I find are Life-Threatening Disasters of Monumental Importance . They are simply things that need to be corrected .

Each time I find a problem , my first step is to notify the department manager . It usually goes like this :

Me:  Hi Manager , I found a ______ problem in this area. I have the correct ______for this and with your permission , I will fix it . "

Manager 1 : Really ? Thanks for bringing it to my attention . Let me know if you need any help .

Manager 2 : Yes , we've been having issues over there because of XYZ . If you can get any assistance from Parent Company we would appreciate it .

Ms. Defensive : THAT'S NOT MY FAULT !! PARENT COMPANY WON'T HELP US ! I'M NOT HERE 24 HOURS A DAY ! SOMEONE FROM ANOTHER DEPARTMENT DID THAT ! I CAN'T CONTROL WHAT OTHER DEPARTMENT DOES !!!

She goes on and on and on. She reacts like I am attacking her . I try to remain calm and explain that there is no " fault " involved , I am simply informing her of the problem and what I will be doing to correct it .

I try agreeing with her - I know it's not your fault , I'm just telling you what I found... ( this is often a lie and it usually is her fault , but again - these are not Life-Threatening Disasters of Monumental Importance . )
 
All of this falls on deaf ears and while her volume goes down a bit , the JADE continues until I walk away .

It's exhausting . I have taken to going to her Boss with my findings and and usually get the Manager 1 / Manager 2 response from them . But now Boss is starting to ask :

" Why aren't you addressing this with Ms. Defensive ? It's her department and she needs to be informed ."
" Have you informed Ms. Defensive about this ? "

I just don't know what to say....I am a visitor to these places . I am not on their payroll . I feel like I would be throwing another log on her PD bonfire if I were to state the real reason I try to avoid her . The Boss is aware that Ms. D has issues - she does not have a great reputation within her own facility .

Any wisdom , E-hellions ? 
The key to avoiding trouble is to learn to recognize it from a distance.

Sneezy

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2013, 08:24:35 PM »
Would it be possible for you to talk to both her and her boss together when you go over your findings? That way, you are talking to her directly, but you have someone else there who she reports to. If she becomes super defensive, her boss is there to witness the behavior and address it later. If her boss doesn't feel like it's an issue worth addressing, all you can really do is listen to her rants and and treat them like small talk that doesn't need to be taken seriously and ask what else you can do to help as you wrap up and prepare to make your exit.

blarg314

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2013, 09:32:12 PM »

I would address it directly with Ms Defensive once - "Ms Defensive, when I tell you about a problem I am not blaming you, I am informing you. You do not need to explain or excuse."

Then, if she starts it up again, you say "Oh, I have to go now" and physically leave while she's ranting.

After that, you're honest to the managers. "I've tried telling her directly, and she inevitably assumes I'm accusing her and gets very defensive, after which it takes a long time to calm her down to the point where I can get on with my work. It's much easier and more useful to tell you directly."

They know what she's like, and they can either address it with her, or act as a middle man.

I think it helps a lot that you're hired by someone else - as the trouble shooter who swoops in and does a survey, you can ignore a lot of the inner departmental divas and personality conflicts, because you don't stick around all day, every day.




MrTango

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2013, 07:05:55 AM »
I'd go to Ms. Defensive with the next issue that comes up.  Let her go into her rant (bonus points if there are witnesses).  Wait until she's done and very calmly say "I never said it was your fault.  My job is to find things like this and help fix them before they become a big deal."

After that, respond to all of her rants/defensiveness with the same phrase in the exact same tone of voice.  Eventually, she ought to realize that her defensiveness isn't getting her any sympathy from (or provoking) you and hopefully, she'll calm down.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2013, 07:08:09 AM by MrTango »

bopper

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2013, 09:29:47 AM »
I have to work with a consultant of a client who is defensive/work avoider.

Me: "We would like you to provide examples of the data so we can test."
Him: basically "You don't need that blah blah blah"
Me thinking: Why are you fighting me over trying to find problems earlier??


Me: "You changed the underlying template without telling us so everything we documented and developed and agreed upon has to be done again."
Him: "If you knew the service you would have known we would have changed."
Me thinking: "uh, no, we solved the problem that the change fixed a different way...quit making me look bad."

Cami

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2013, 09:52:14 AM »
I worked with someone like that once. Inadvertently, I hit on the problem and the solution. Perhaps it will help.

My Ms. Defensive would go off on everyone when they brought a problem to her attention. One day when we were just chatting in the break room, I was telling a story of a former boss I had, Mr. Bully. Whenever something would go wrong or indeed, even if there was a possibility of going wrong (and of course, there is always the possibility), he would find a way to shift blame off of himself and onto an underling while also berating, yelling, and denigrating the poor person who happened to be chosen as his victim of the day. The victim was totally random -- if you happened to walk by him at the moment Mr. Bully realized a problem might possibly occur, BAM! Tag, you're it! Over time, EVERYONE who worked with him grew to be incredibly defensive and aggressive in protecting their job and their reputation.  Pure survival. Ms. Defensive eagerly chimed in telling me the story of her last workplace in which she had the same experience. I then countered by saying that my next job after Mr. Bully was difficult for me because I had to unlearn the defensive behavior I'd learned as a survival mechanism.  Ms. Defensive then paused and looked at me and said, "Wow, I think I need to learn that lesson too."

Ms. Defensive then truly did work hard on overcoming those negative learned behaviors and we worked on being patient with her.

Not to say that's your Ms. Defensive's causal factor, but it did work for us.

chibichan

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2013, 07:55:21 PM »
Cami - that's enlightening . I will find a chance to talk with her privately the next time I'm there . I don't think she's a bad person and I don't dislike her . We get along famously when there are no problems to be found . I have noticed that she uses the words " Blame " and " Fault " frequently in her conversations . It doesn't matter whether she's talking about problems I have found or her workplace in general .

In truth , I feel sorry for her . She seems to be deathly afraid of losing her postition as a manager .
She also has the unfortunate habit of telling you what she thinks you want to hear , or making up stuff as she goes along .

For example , a new product sent to her facility . My job is to make sure it was out on the sales floor . I knew approximately how long it would take to ship and when enough time had passed , I went to see if it had arrived . ( I later found it in the stockroom .) Here is our conversation :

Me : Hi Ms. D ! Have you gotten New Product yet ?
Ms. D : Yes , we already put it out .

Cue me spending 30 minutes on the floor , looking for it .  >:(

Me: Uh , Ms. D....it's not out there .
Ms. D : Oh. Well , then we didn't get it yet .

After finding it in the stockroom -

Me: Hey Ms. D ! Good news , I found it in the stockroom.....
Ms. D : IT'S NOT MY FAULT IT ISN'T OUT YET ! _____DEPARTMENT IS SUPPOSED TO PUT IT OUT ! I CAN'T CONTROL _______ DEPARTMENT ! I'M NOT HERE EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK ! THEY DIDN'T TELL ME .... and on and on and on .

Sigh . Wish me luck .....
The key to avoiding trouble is to learn to recognize it from a distance.

hyzenthlay

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2013, 08:34:15 PM »
After the last mess I'd have confronted her.

"When I asked if you had put it out, you said you had.  Why?"

Then sit back and let her spew for a while.

'My job is X, Y and Z, in order to do my job I need real time feedback from you. If I ask if a product is out please give me the accurate answer. If you don't know I'd rather you tell me you're not sure and we go locate the product then be given an incorrect answer.' Then walk away, with a polite 'Excuse me I need to check on something.'

With your first example 'If you can't get Parent Company to respond can Boss contact them and give them a nudge. I can send an e-mail if you like?'

Just start being blunt, matter of fact, and walk away when the rants start. Maybe you can train her to be a little more proactive, or at least effectively reactive instead of panic mode reactive.


It's a learned skill to react in a useful matter to screw-ups (yours or others) and done with confidence you come off as a manager instead of a place holder.

chibichan

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2013, 09:14:27 PM »
Yes , the last sentence of your post is really the goal . Her management has been working with her but I'm not sure what the results have been or what the consequences will be if she does not change .

I have not had a recurrence of the New Product scenario lately , but then , I no longer go to her to find out this type of information . Not worth it , when I have other sources that will give me a straight answer .

The sticky wicket is when I have to correct a problem within her area . I cannot just go in and do it ( stealth mode ). The facility management must be notified that I am changing something , and why .

She is supposed to be the one I notify and that should be the end of it but the Drama and Trauma this causes has led me to start going above her . ( It should be a 30 second conversation fer Pete's sake !)

I will try a couple of the things everyone has suggested and let you know how it works out . I do have a certain amount of sympathy for her ( a lot more than her co-workers do ) and she does know her job . Her people skills definitely need work .

I also know she does not freak out like that to her Boss , only to people who are lower on the totem pole or outside of her Company . It's like she is petrified that people are going behind her back and running to Boss to point out all her mistakes .

Which is sad , but maybe it's true ...I don't work there and don't know the atmosphere . ( Dang , I do love being an Independent Contractor ).





 

The key to avoiding trouble is to learn to recognize it from a distance.

*inviteseller

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2013, 09:37:39 PM »
As soon as she starts, calmly tell her she can call you back to talk about solutions after she calms down.  I think everyone has encountered one of these people sometime in their life.  The one I worked at would start defending herself before you even finished what you were saying (and usually what you were trying to correct was her fault but it was never ever conveyed that way),  I would just say what the issue was and how to fix it and walk away during the rant.  Her issue wasn't that she was a bad person but she did make a lot of mistakes and was terrified because the big boss would occasionally blow up at her so whenever someone tried to help her by pointing out something that needed fixed, she would go into the 'not me, someone else, I never do that' song and dance.  I am (thankfully) not there anymore, but a former co worker says it still goes on and no matter what you say, she automatically gets defensive.

chibichan

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2013, 01:44:32 AM »
Yep , that's her exactly .

We meet in person though , I do not call her on the phone . I used to e-mail her but never got a response . In the heirarchy of her Company , I am not even the lowest on the totem pole , I am the earthworm who lives in the ground that the totem pole sits on .

Until they need me....

Then I become an Important Member Of The Team .
The key to avoiding trouble is to learn to recognize it from a distance.

Jaelle

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2013, 09:51:43 PM »
Yep , that's her exactly .

We meet in person though , I do not call her on the phone . I used to e-mail her but never got a response . In the heirarchy of her Company , I am not even the lowest on the totem pole , I am the earthworm who lives in the ground that the totem pole sits on .

Until they need me....

Then I become an Important Member Of The Team .

Whoo, boy. Well said. Been there. :)

I also wonder if Cami has pin-pointed it. We used to have a similar scenario and I've noticed that other veterans of that regime have had to unlearn that behavior. I know I did.
She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don't apply to you.
― Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

chibichan

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2013, 05:49:18 PM »
I will be seeing Ms. D sometime this week , I have a huge project going on in her facility and so far have managed to get most of it done by working with a lady on her crew ( a wonderful woman , helpful and on top of her game .)

A little background : Ms. D has been with her Company for years and got her position by moving up through the ranks . Apparently there was a great deal of animosity among Those Left Behind when she was promoted .

Her former co-workers are now her subordinates and in her early days as Manager , Ms. D's standard tactic was to blame them for the problems in department and assure the Boss that she would "re-train them" .

So in some ways her paranoia is justified . Her own crew would like nothing more than for her to be de-throned .

Boss has also experienced the " Make Up Something , Anything " type answers . That was nipped in the bud pretty quickly and Ms. D now only does it to me in an effort to get me to go away and leave her alone ( which she knows darn well is not going to happen ). I fell for it a few times but soon learned to recognize when she BSing vs. giving me a real answer .
The key to avoiding trouble is to learn to recognize it from a distance.

JenJay

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2013, 07:23:56 PM »
I'd interrupt her, including raising my hand and/or voice if I had to, and say "Ms. D, I don't care whose 'fault' it is, that isn't my job. What is my job is letting you know that X is wrong and Y needs to be done to correct it. Now, as I was saying..." If she won't stop or starts up again I'd say "Maybe it would be better if I addressed this with HerBoss." Then, when asked why you didn't take it to Ms. D, you can answer truthfully "I tried but she wasn't receptive to my instruction."

turnip

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Re: S/O of Mr. Negative - Meet Ms. Defensive
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2013, 07:29:23 PM »
You can't change her.  You won't change her.  Sit back calmly and let her have her say, and move on.   If you try to fix every negative personality that you work with, it will become your fulltime job!