I had a weird thing happen today.
Everything was pretty normal at first. I was sitting in my office working, minding my own business.
A friend came bursting into my office in tears, and proceeded to tell me a story that I can't tell here.
It's not like this never happens, but for some reason today I was really caught off-guard.
I tried to comfort her the best I could and promised I would try to help as much as I can.
But in the course of her story, I found out something someone else said about me.
Suffice it to say, it's not so much what was said - I don't really care what people say about me - but that it was said by someone with whom I thought I had a warm and mutually respectful relationship. Someone whom I thought was pretty straightforward and would actually give me useful feedback, even negative feedback if they had any.
I would like to confront this person, but I don't want to let on that I know what was said or who told me.
So I'm tossing around options. I'd rather get no information than have it blow up into a huge fight, of course, but I'm also tempted to just get everything out in the open.
Either way, I don't want to spend a lot of time building up to my point - I've got too many other things to do.
Do I say
a) "Do you have something you want to say to me?"
The idea being that if this person has as much spine as I thought, what was said will be repeated.
b) "What do you think about (thing related to what was said about me)?"
The idea being that this would give a more casual segue and maybe give me more context for what was said, to interpret whether it was really meant the way I heard it.
c) "If someone held a gun to your head and said you had to describe all my good and bad professional qualities, what would you say? And said you had to give specific examples. "
Again just to see if this person takes the bait. This would also provide more context. Or maybe I just had the wrong impression about our relationship.
Meanwhile I think my New Year's resolution (arrived at just this moment) is to not care if people at work like me, so long as they don't get in my way.
I've been pretty lucky thus far. Where I went to grad school, rumors were the currency of the day. I was able to ignore it because I heard as much dirt on everyone else as I could possibly ever need, where leverage was an issue.
I do not, by the way, recommend this. I hate gossip. Somehow, perhaps because I enjoy and am good at listening to other people's problems, I became the unwilling recipient of far too much information. People who are upset tend not to filter. At all.
But as a postdoc, although I've heard lots of other people's troubles, I haven't heard much gossip about me. I've either been unaware, or able to ignore it (gossip from people I never liked or respected doesn't bother me one bit).
I would rather not be aware, but there you have it.
Is it ever possible to work with people who actually just mind their own business and do their job? I have to assume that this is a problem everywhere, so I should just get used to it.
I still wish I could work alone most of the time.