Friday, February 18, 2005 · posted at 7:01 PM
Retract those claws.

Evelyn: Well, I wonder where Marge could be? She's missing her own initiation.
Susan: I hope she didn't take my attempt to destroy her too seriously [slurps her drink loudly].
     - The Simpsons, "Class Struggles in Springfield"


Have you ever suspected that someone doesn't like you? It's never something blatant that triggers the thought (e.g. someone slashing your tires would be a glaring red flag), just little ambiguous things that can be construed either way (e.g. a "lost invite in the mail" could be intentional or an oversight).

Some people, particularly those of the double X'ed sex, direct thinly veiled barbs to others with the intention of hurting them while appearing on the surface to like them. This is called cattiness. I know it well because I'm a recovering "Mean Girl."

There was a time when almost everything out of my mouth was malicious and I felt so clever delivering back-handed compliments and sarcastic remarks. I'd like to think I'm now older, more enlightened and have tried to (1) stop expending effort on people I don't care for and (2) start holding my tongue before lashing out with hurtful comments.

Now I feel like I have a heightened sense for when someone's engaging in my old favorite pasttime... For example, there's this woman from my work who rides the line between obliviously blunt/naive and heinously bitchy. I'm not quite sure what I could have done to offend her, as I seldom interact with my coworkers period, but there is definitely a weird undertone whenever I run into her.

Situation #1
She introduced me to a new coworker by saying: This is Christina. She works for Dr. Z taking care of clinical matters and she supervises interns and she also, well, that's pretty much it, right?
Positive interpretation: I don't blame her for not knowing my job functions because I can barely explain it on my resume and I don't really know anyone else's either. For example, beyond talking loudly on the phone to her boyfriend, I didn't know what she did at work either.
Negative interpretation: She could have mentioned that we work on one of the same projects (when budget cuts were made, they kept me and let her go - which may explain the dislike). Also shouldn't you make a point to portray team members with positive wording, especially to new team members?
My reaction: She clearly never practiced the Bridget Jones "introduce people with thoughtful details. Such as: 'Sheila, this is Daniel. Daniel, this is Sheila. Sheila enjoys horse-riding and comes from New Zealand'" rule. But I've never cared whether my coworkers (new and old) liked me or not, so really, her comment was inconsequential.

Situation #2
She approached me to tell me how glad she was that my boss was mentoring her intern. "It's so great that Dr. Z has taken Intern A under her wing. She might even hire her. She sees a lot of potential in Intern A and I'm sure sure Dr. Z is glad to finally be working with someone who wants to be a doctor."
Positive interpretation: She really is excited about Dr. Z and Intern A working together. She feels proud that one of her interns is blossoming under her tutelage.
Negative interpretation: She was trying to make me feel bad or threatened about my relationship with my boss.
My reaction: Again, not a huge need for love and acceptance for things relating to work. I think it's great if someone is actually getting something worthwhile from the workplace.

Situation #3
We run into each other in the hall. She tells me, "I like your pants. You don't see people wearing that style much anymore. They're got that retro 70's/80's look."
Positive intrepretation: She really does like my pants.
Negative interpretation: She was trying to insinuate that my pants/style was out of fashion.
My reaction: "Oh, no she d'dnt." Inflict all the work-related digs you want, but this is just personal now. For the record, I was wearing my tan corduroy flares... the kind that is super mass-produced right now that you can find at Abercrombie, American Eagle, Macy's, wherever. So though that may speak to the unoriginality of my fashion sense, it clearly shows it is not circa "out of style." Maybe she just hasn't seem them in a while because they don't carry those kinds of clothes at Talbot's or Lane Bryant (oops, I'm a work in progress - old habits die hard).

So from just reading the rant above, I'd probably say I was overanalyzing her intentions. But when I'm face to face with her, I swear I can like hear her claws scratching against the floor waiting to pounce.

Bring it on girl, I'd love the excuse.

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