Training day, or, the perils of being yourself

Today I spent the day learning to Manage Successful Projects. Fine, whatever. A part of this process was investigating personality types using the DISC system of Robert Rohm. I’ve done a similar thing before, for a different employer, and was satisfied with the outcome. These things are like horoscopes – you’ll find something to relate to in all of the categories.

Today, the trainer asked everyone in the room to spread out along an imaginary axis from ‘Outgoing’ to ‘Reserved’. Well, I know which one I am, and I’m nothing if not honest and transparent, so I set out confidently for the back of the room; the Reserved space. I suppose I thought that more than one other person would join me there, in a room of 13 people. But what can you do? You’ve made your bed, you’ve got to lie in it.

Then we were asked to separate ourselves again, along on an axis from ‘Task-Orientated’ to ‘People-Orientated’. On the previous occasion I did this exercise (via a more sophisticated methodology) I ended up with my feet planted squarely in the Task-Orientated camp, which in the jargon of today’s session would make me a ‘C’. Given that I’m an Editor, and Cs are conscientious detail freaks who do everything three times and thoroughly, this was not a bad place to be. But in the time since then things have changed with me. I’ve been on the receiving end of a casually dismissive relationship break-up, and almost entirely lost what emotional stability I had. In the absence of any countering influence, my thoughts and feelings do what they want, and they are running riot like a particularly sadistic storyteller on amphetamines. I’m re-experiencing some of the feelings of my darkest times: I feel like a person standing outside a glass room in which a party’s going on. I look on my colleagues and feel a million light-years away from ever being able to live the kind of life they lead. I look at my fellow ‘Reserved’, and realise that even she has a family. Someone managed to break down her reserve and see the good in her. But it doesn’t happen with me. I am outside the glass room in which everyone else lives, and I can only observe.

Anyway. So far, so self-pitying. All these thoughts came later. The point is, that I’m feeling less Task-Orientated than I used to – I crave connection, and validation. Tasks can’t validate me – people can. So I moved toward the side of the room where the People-Orientated people go. There was me in that quadrant, the other Reserved in the Task-Orientated quadrant, and a crowd of Outgoing people at the other end of the room, blinking at us in Decisive or Interesting bemusement, respectively. At the time I thought I was making a positive statement about myself; I thought I was saying ‘Here is someone who cares about her colleagues’ feelings, who wants everyone to rub along together, who wants to find the right person for the right job, and would enjoy being part of a high-functioning team.’ It turns out that what I was actually saying was ‘Here’s a doormat who can’t say no to anything and if you trust your project to her it’s going to disappear in a mass of swampy good intentions.’ As it were. That means I’m an ‘S’, by the way. Turns out I was better off being a C. At least then you’d have stood more chance of getting your manuscript submitted in a timely fashion.

The whole exercise was interesting, but it meant that I exposed myself in a very literal way. I stood alone in a corner of the room designated for people who lack assertiveness and are likely to be unable to manage their workload. And the trainer did not hesitate to point this out. Twice. While senior colleagues looked on. FUCK.

So a good day’s training was had by all, yeah? Of course I gave a glowing report on the evaluation form. I only realised afterwards what a fucking disaster it was.

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One Response to Training day, or, the perils of being yourself

  1. Cauldron of delights says:

    By definition a “Training Day” is never a “good” day. It is invariably formulaic and that formula unvalidated except by fashion – or am I an old cynic? There is too much of an inclination towards the Chinese “Fanshen” mentality – a uniquely (?) Chinese process, often painful and violent, of criticism and self-criticism – in the contemporary employment world.

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