I emailed a coworker and said, "Please don't call me honey."
When he said "honey," we were at my computer. He was guiding me to do something and I joked with him that it wasn't the right date in one of the fields. Only, I said it in Chinese and he doesn't speak Chinese. Up to that point, we'd been interacting in a light manner. His initial response was to change his demeanor into a defensive posture and say, "Oh, don't try that with me, honey. I speak three languages." Even though he was acting in a joking manner, I felt like the words he said were intended to put me in my place, so to speak. Aggressive. I didn't like it. I didn't know what to say. What do you say when someone acts like that at work?
I didn't know how to process his experience of the situation and mine at the same time, so I focused on the task at hand. My mind waited until later to process all of it. He acted so pushy! Gah. He's my primary trainer person, and I don't like to ask him for help because he acts so aggressive with me and I don't know how to get him to lay off. He didn't wait for me to resize my windows, felt it necessary to show me keyboard shortcuts. This guy maintains such a controlling personality. At one point, I didn't understand what was happening, and I was thinking that he was about to say words to guide me. I kept clicking around, seeing if I could see what I was supposed to be doing. Then suddenly his demeanor is impatient, "What are you still doing on this page?! Get out of there!"
Yuck. Back off, dude. I'm learning. Chill the f' out. How 'bout maybe I'm waiting for you? Shebeebus. I felt awkward in that moment he called me honey, and I didn't know how or whether to say anything. What's a good thing to say? How could I address that situation in a different manner next time? Is it ok to say, "Quit this behavior," with a coworker? Or perhaps the way I handled it is ok. An email to an aggressive personality. Or... I could say, "I'm waiting for you. Please act patient right now because I find it difficult to learn from this type of behavior." That'd be assertive, kind.
As a child of narcissistic and codependent personalities, I experienced little empathy and inconsistent patterns with my early life. I thought it a guessing game of what to do. So, now when I interact at work, I'm also teaching myself how to know my own boundaries and speak them freely and kindly.
One time, one of my cousins told me that her parents cooked the food in a particular way because the Americans were coming over. Ok, first off -- we're all Americans. Second, yuck. Don't put sugar in Chinese food just to sweeten it for people. Cook it fresh. Cook it well. Third, I find that pretty insulting that my own family differentiates between American and non-American given that we all call the same country home. I wonder sometimes how it is for my sisters because the Chinese side really pushed away connection with them, from my perspective. It's not incredibly surprising to me that we don't speak with each other, and still... I felt such connection with all of my family at one time in my life, and it's been a really challenging thing to mostly separate from them and go on my own way without thinking that I'm some kind of bad person or feeling a lot of guilt.
Growing up in my family was frightening and anxiety-filled. It's hard sometimes because my father won't grow beyond a certain type of behavior -- shallow, inconsiderate. After I didn't want to listen to him talk at me for an hour on the phone and I told him I didn't want to talk while he was driving, he didn't call me anymore. I didn't want to listen to his stories and his opinions and his words and promises and dreams... I didn't want to support him, emotionally, when he did so little for me. Thanks for the financial support, however limited. I appreciate the vehicle at 16. It's been a few decades now. You borrowed money from me twice, asked me to help you sell your vehicle (for which I used a lot of vacation time... not again.) I feel ok with low-contact now. You used my yearning for connection with you and acted very inconsiderate with my emotions.
Inconsiderate like the behavior of that guy at work. Low- and no-contact with this type of behavior requires expressing myself. I can learn how to speak up for me and say what I'm doing and what I need from people. So the next time this coworker speaks to me in a way that I feel is an attack, I'll say words that define a boundary for his aggression, something like, "I appreciate your time. I need you to speak to me with patience, please. I thought something else was happening." I can speak up! It'll take practice, and I'll improve with it.
Well hello there.