Monday, March 03, 2008

My Fault

You know that job interview question, the one where they ask (or you ask, if you're hiring) what your biggest flaw is, and you're supposed to offer up a flaw that's really a strength, or twist your flaw back into a strength? Like, "I'm too much of a perfectionist," or "I tend to procrastinate, but I always get everything done," or "I used to have a hard time delegating, but I've been working on it and now I'm pretty good." The question is partly a chance to check out your flaws, but also a chance to figure out how savvy you are, because the person who says "I never answer my email," or "I'm really bad at planning," is obviously not only flawed in the workplace, but flawed in her job-seeking capacity, which is just as bad, if not worse.

When I'm asked that question, I usually go with the perfectionist or procrastination lines, both of which are true, but signal my savviness. If I were going to tell the real truth, though, about my biggest flaw in the workplace, it's my inability to tolerate stupidity. Actually, it's more specific than that: my inability to tolerate stupidity in peers whose work affects my own.

I'm fine with inept or not-so-bright subordinates, especially when they are young. I have quite a lot of patience, and I'm a very good supervisor, teacher, and mentor. I can usually find a strength, or I can find ways to provide encouragement and support while at the same time minimizing damage.

Moronic superiors are annoying, but I can usually work around them--and if I can't, I leave.

The problem is the person on my level who is 1) stupid, 2) doing their job badly, and 3) affecting my ability to do my job. Actually, the real problem is me, because when I encounter this person, and there's usually at least one of them in every workplace, it is very hard for me to contain my disdain, and, really, the worst sides of my personality come out: the nasty, impatient, sarcastic, scornful know-it-all. God, just thinking about that person (me) makes me cringe.

Unfortunately, somebody who I work with quite closely has revealed herself as that other person, the one who turns me into someone who makes myself cringe. Actually, it's more complicated--and worse--because this person is a lot younger than me and a lot less experienced than I am. But, technically, she is at the same level as me, and she is doing a shit job at her job. Her incompetence is impressive--and this is with me trying to help her. The other problem? She keeps trying to tell me how things are. Not realizing that I'm all about making things the way they should be, regardless of how they are. Or perhaps realizing it, but resisting it, which is not such a good idea.

Unfortunately, my patience is slipping away. I think she knows she's in over her head, and I'm guessing she knows that I'm disgusted, because, like I said, in these circumstances, which have happened before, I am very bad at hiding my disgust. Which is just a terrible flaw. Really.

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