Culture Wars

I read this post from Girl On Her Own about cliques and popularity and how as much as you think you leave it all behind in high school, all you really leave behind is (hopefully) how desperately you care about that sort of thing. 

I think every workplace has its cliques. My company is fairly large (and growing), and separated into not only different large “groups” but also smaller “units” within those groups. There’s lots of office-politicking and resentments and “We-work-harder-than-you”-itis, mostly among “groups” but sometimes among “units” as well. I’m lucky enough to work for a unit in which everyone likes and respects each other and even if we disagree, we are all-for-one-and-one-for-all to the rest of the world. We are also all very easy to get along with, which can not be said about everybody else in the building. I’m not naming names (third floor). 

What I don’t get is the people (third floor) who will cut you dead when you say hello on the walk into the building from the parking garage, in the hallway by the lunch counter, in the vending room. Why are you so rude when you know we’ll have to be working together next month? Am I wearing an invisibility suit? 

Look, I was not in the popular group in high school or college. I was not an athlete, I was not a cheerleader and I was not in a sorority. I was a regular person with not much special about me to distinguish me from all the other regular kids out there. I’m used to being ignored in life. But I’m also used to a little respect, not a quick recasting of the eyes or a sudden fascination with your coat zipper. 

I try not to let it bother me, and honestly I didn’t even think much of it until a co-worker (also in my unit) brought up similar behavior he had experienced, which was later validated by yet another co-worker. While we haven’t brought this information out of our unit, I’m starting to wonder if it might be more than just us. 

Our “group” is very people-oriented. As a general function of what we do, we like people, we talk to people, we are COMMUNICATORS. Many others in the building are not – they are process people, they like to analyze, they can recite portions of our company’s bylaws. Maybe it’s more a clash of cultures and less a clash of personalities. In their world, they don’t like to have conversations. In ours, we depend on it.

Amongst yourselves, you are the belles of the ball. You are chatty Cathys. You are social butterflies. Are we such outsiders? We have the same logo on our company-issued polos (and dress shirts, and backpacks and umbrellas and pens…).

So, would it kill you to say hello? I won’t make you tell me about your day. I just want to know if my new invisibility suit is working. Judging by your reaction, I need to rush off to the patent office right away because damn, I just might have something here.

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3 Responses to Culture Wars

  1. noodle says:

    (I just posted a comment and lost it somewhere in the ether)

    I’m stupid excited that someone read my post! I could write another whole one just on office politics. Anyway, it sounds like we have similar work environments. I’m one of a few communicators in a building full of engineers and scientists and computer types. Sometimes it’s like we don’t even speak the same language! I guess it’s hard for people to step outside their comfort zone to be polite and friendly.

  2. Pingback: Lede Me On » Blog Archive » In which I stomp my feet at the cosmic injustice

  3. Pingback: Lede Me On » Blog Archive » unplanned post

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