Monday, April 18, 2011

It Pains Me To See True Colors

I have trust issues again, only this time, I saw the problem coming but really didn't do anything to stop it.

You would think that after the last time I got severely burned by someone, I would've learned my lesson well and have my radar doing minute-by-minute sweeps of the people who have contact with me on a daily basis.


crickets chirping in the general vicinity


I think it's safe to say that at one time or another, we've all experienced trust issues, either with our family, with our friends or with our co-workers. And our response is often dictated by what particular group we're dealing with at the given moment.

Let's take a look at what I consider to be the easiest of the three groupings to deal with as it pertains to trust issues: family.

When you have trust issues with your family, the response is fairly predictable and easy to execute. If they're not an immediate member of the family, you drop further contact for a period of time, be it weeks or months, or in one particular case, years/decades. Then you gradually reestablish contact with that person on a purely platonic basis, or in that particular case of years/decades, never.

Why platonic? In my opinion, since the previous trust level has been irrevocably destroyed, there is no real need to go beyond cordial greetings and generalized chit chat. This is something that I do on a frequent basis with the people who have destroyed my trust in them in some particular way.

Anyways, if they're an immediate family member, you quickly learn how to be not-so-candid with your comments and yet maintain a level of civility that if properly executed, does not reveal just how incredibly pissed you are with the person in question.

With friends, close or otherwise, who break your trust, the pain is magnified by a factor of fifty. Why so high? When we have our trust broken with a friend, its usually over something that's rather personal and the consequences can be personally devastating for the receiving party.

When that happens, realistically the only thing that you can do is drop that friend and have no further contact with them. The passage of time can eventually heal the wound and even put you back on cordial speaking terms with the ex-friend. But the level of trust that you previously had can never be restored, no matter how much time has passed (in my case, over four years had to pass before I was able to speak to an ex-friend without getting angry or upset). All you can realistically hope for is to be able to come to a mutual understanding with the other person, sort of a live and let live you might say.

Now we tackle the thorniest group in this ghastly trio: co-workers.

The reason why I say that co-workers are the thorniest group to deal with is due to the simple fact that beyond the serious amount of time you spend with your immediate family (wife, husband, kids), the second serious chunk of time you spend belongs to your co-workers.

Your co-workers often become like your second family, because you often know just as much as what goes on their lives (and they with yours) as you do with your original family. You bond with them, get to know their idiosyncrasies, get to know what they're truly like as a person. And when that trust is broken, for any reason, especially if its work or career related, the pain can be devastating, debilitating and more often than not, permanent.

What makes this kind of pain so unique is that it's usually a combination of the first two groups, and because of that combo, your response has to be the equivalent of a diplomat functioning at the highest levels of sensitivity.

Why? Well for one thing, you certainly can't treat them like family. If you try to simply break off contact, it can often be misinterpreted as creating an angry environment or just being angry. So you eliminate that particular response from your repertoire. Now what? Well, you could continue to be cordial and yet show with your body language how upset you really are. Guess what? Same problem can arise. So you eliminate that response because the last thing you want to do is bring unneeded and unwanted attention to yourself.

Since you've lost your two main choices of response, it really leaves you with only one real alternative to try and come to an understanding: you maintain civility by circling the wagons. In other words, don't speak unless you're spoken to, mind your business, and do your job to the best of your ability, even if no one else has 100% confidence in your abilities to do your job. And if you are spoken to, keep it short, keep it sweet and keep it focused on the question at hand. Don't do idle chit chat and especially don't enlighten people on your day-to-day activities outside of work, no matter what they may be.

This my friends, is the only true way to recover from this particular kind of pain and heartache. Be true to yourself and take comfort in the knowledge that eventually people will come around to your side and to your viewpoint.


It's all you that you really got to work with and it's all that you really need to survive any kind of challenge that comes up in the day-to-day business of living your life the way that you want to.


  1. Hardest thing I ever did was sit down with a coworker who wronged me and tell him how I felt.

    No emotion, no anger, just me saying, this is why I feel wronged and I don't expect you do to anything different but if I am distant, you will know.

    He took it better than expected, apologized and are relationship returned to a strong level.

  2. totally sucks bro...

    work issues are worse than family issues, because everything we do at work is to pay a mortgage, and i can still exist if my wife and i do not talk for days..

    not well, but i can exist...

    but when work is fucked...that is the worst shit...

    been there done that, it actually led to my first divorce, when the bonds of trust at work failed, my real life did too...

    so sorry to hear this, and sending good thoughts and karma repair waves...

  3. I'm sorry someone didn't live up to expectations. It's refreshing to read that if someone does something where you can not trust them, you drop them! YEAH! I'm so on that boat.

    But yeah, co-workers is a whole different ball game!

  4. It's always painful when trust is broken. I'm sorry that happened to you, G. And sometimes the break is so severe there is no reattachment possible. But I can't help but wonder what sort of world we'd live in if we just didn't trust at the risk is worth it, I think.

  5. I'm sorry you're having to go through that, G.

  6. I tell you the best thing with co-workers is to befriend those who are too busy to spend time gossiping and back biting.

  7. Bearman: I probably won't be able to do that with a few of my co-workers until I'm someplace else.

    If I try to do that where I'm currently at, it will backfire.

    Sometimes waiting until you're elsewhere can make the difference between staying level headed and wigging out.

    Bruce: Thanks.

    Sad thing is that until I came to my current place, my rep and work ethic was golden. Once here, it has been nothing but stress, grief and aggravation.

    T1G: I drop very few people and I've been on the receiving end of being dropped as well. I understand the need sometimes of playing the game of "tit-for-tat" when it involves friends and family, but with co-workers, you're really treading a bad minefield if you try the same approach.

    Talon: I agree that there is some risk involved (otherwise life would be very dull) when it comes to trusting others.

    Sometimes things can be repaired to a certain degree. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, they can't.

    Right now, I'm just playing a waiting game to see how things unfold in the coming weeks/months.

    Lynn: Thanks.

    This is just the natural end result of what I've been going through for the past couple of months.

    It is what it is, and while I have learned something from it, it will make me gunshy again in reaching out to trust any current/future co-workers.

    Charles: Good idea in principle, but when you're in the guv'ment, very, very hard to execute.

    I do have a few co-workers (mostly long time managers) who have helped me with advice and what not whenever things go kablooie, so I am grateful for that.

  8. at the risk of...well...risky or not, it has to be said.

    I would hope your familial relationships are generally platonic as opposed to...uh...romantic.

    Just sayin'

    yes, it is supposed to be funny.
    No, it isn't.
    Deal with it! :-)

  9. Not sure what I can offer except sorry and hang in there!

  10. Darth: The humorous intention was good, but the execution....

    Most of my family relationships are okay. Only a few are strained to the breaking point, and only one is at that year/decades point of non-contact.

    R: Thanks. Been trying to. It ain't easy, that's for sure.

  11. I find myself moving farther and farther away from co-workers. I'm friendly but don't care to build family like relationships.

  12. David: Sad to say, I'm learning to do that the hard way.

    Things have gotten to the point now where I have now basically hunkered down and make a concentrated effort not to get involved in other people's lives anymore.

    I'll stick with the previous friendships I made elsewhere at other stops in my state career. Those have managed to survive, in one form or another, for the past several years.

  13. Fairly frequently my job duties include facilitating healthy confrontations between quarrelling staff members. Constructive confrontation is a skill that I believe should be taught in grade school. Most people, including managers, are completely clueless in this regard. Still, there are some rifts that can never be healed. In my organization eventually one of the parties usually quits or is fired if it can be clearly determined who was at fault. Others in time carry on at a professional arms' length. It's a tricky subject.

  14. S.R.: I agree it can be tricky subject to tackle, especially if you work for the guv'ment (doesn't matter what level, be it local, state or national).

    While constructive confrontation is good, it can be deadly when the other party is clueless. And yes, most managers that I deal with are clueless in that regard.

    I've learned and honed my debating skills over the years and unfortunately, because of where I work, I can't use those skills without getting into further trouble.

    There are days where it feels like I'm banging my head against a wall, and I'm frankly, I'm getting fed up with it.

  15. Very observant lack of trust choices, which I have practiced myself!

    I get screwed over into doing other folks work so I can do mine every single day. The manager lies to me, n some days I'm stuck 2 feet across from him while he plays 20 questions trying to pry info from me when I don't want to talk at all. very irritating all the time! He thinks it's funny...

  16. Snaggle: Thanks.

    Let me tell you, it is a veritable minefield when it comes to dealing with co-workers in state guv'ment.

    Whereas you can get away with what you just described in the private sector, in the public sector, trying to do the exact same thing will often get you into trouble.

    It's a lose-lose situation.

    As for the other two listed, it's actually easier than you might think to execute. I'm doing it right now to a few certain people in my real world as we speak.


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G. B. Miller

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