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#1 of 20 Old 02-11-2012, 07:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This will probably be long. Heck, I don't think I've seen anything in "personal growth" that isn't. I have a conflict with a co-worker. I firmly believe that conflict is rarely ever one sided. Both parties always carry some blame. A mature person attempts to look at the situation and objectively see how they contributed and what they could have done differently. The thing is that no matter how I look at this situation I just cannot see how I am in any way to blame.

 

So here goes:

 

There is a coworker that I was friendly with. She had a vastly different parenting philosophy and doesn't always agree with my parenting decisions. But that's really okay with me. I value discussions with people who have different opinions than mine. It helps me see things from a different perspective. So my son had been sick most of the fall with ongoing stomach issues and we were seeing doctors to try and figure it out. In the meantime the school hadn't been as understanding as I would have liked. I'd gotten a call from the school counselor about how stressed out my son was by how behind he was in school from lots of missed days. I was venting to this co-worker about how the school wasn't willing to be helpful prior to this. This coworker started going on and on about how she thought my son's health problems were not the causing him stress, but that stress was causing the health problems. I explained that I didn't feel this was the case and that we had just gotten a medical diagnosis for the issue (severe GERD). She then suggested we see a family counselor. I told her that we were in the process of looking for a therapist for him to talk to. She explained that she meant a family counselor because I obviously wasn't listening to him, he was stressed out, I was making him ill, and we needed to see a family counselor so that I could learn to listen to my son. Now keep in mind that she has never met my child. Those who have met my whole family have been impressed with how in tune I am with my kids. She kept going on about how I needed to attend family counseling and see that I was the cause of my son's stomach issues. I eventually told her that I didn't choose to discuss the issue with her further. She retorted that I shouldn't ever speak to her again about my personal life if I didn't want her advice. I disengaged from the conversation and didn't speak to her for a couple of weeks. I was to angry to be civil so I just avoided her. This was back in November or so.

 

Between then and now she got a new job in a different department (a lateral move so she is still at the same level as myself). Oddly enough one that puts her in pretty regular contact with me. She was actually easy enough to avoid when she worked for my same boss because we had vastly different responsibilities. However, I've since calmed down and am quite civil to her though not friendly. Earlier this week we had a bit of a blow out about something work related (not personal and not related to our previous disagreement). I reported to my boss what had happened, because her mistake negatively impacted my project and I had been quite upset at her and didn't want him to hear that I had said or done something with an entirely different spin on it than what happened. Basically she yelled at me because I didn't just say "yes Ma'am" when she informed me of a change of plans, but told her that work flow changes of that nature needed discussed with my supervisor not me. She raged and stormed off making it necessary for me to call my boss and have him call her back so that she could get me something I needed to start my project for the day. This all in the middle of a training session that we had paid in excess of 5k for the trainer to come on-site to perform thereby not just wasting my time, but also the trainers. I then later asked her to leave the training session as her presence was not required, she was simply visiting with another coworker in the back of the room, and her being there was distracting me from the task I was attempting to learn.

 

My boss got, uncharacteristically, upset at me for the disagreement.

 

Friday he told me why. The reason she gave for changing jobs and leaving her position with him was that she didn't want to work with me. So, he made it clear to me that I need to get along with her.

 

Knowing that I'll try.

 

However, I just really fail to see where I did anything wrong in any of this. Admittedly, this is all from my perspective. But, she never even attempted to discuss any of this with me so I certainly don't have her perspective to give the situation any clarity. I do think she was rather unfortunately impulsive in the decision to change jobs. The job has responsibilities I know she dislikes doing. It also brings her in more contact with me not less, so obviously this decision was not real well thought out. I cannot imaging leaving a position because I wasn't getting along with someone without any effort to resolve the differences enough to at least work with them.

 

Can anyone give me some different perspective on this?


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#2 of 20 Old 02-12-2012, 11:53 AM
 
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Originally Posted by JollyGG View Post

 

I reported to my boss what had happened, because her mistake negatively impacted my project and I had been quite upset at her and didn't want him to hear that I had said or done something with an entirely different spin on it than what happened...... She raged and stormed off making it necessary for me to call my boss and have him call her back so that she could get me something I needed to start my project for the day.

 

...The reason she gave for changing jobs and leaving her position with him was that she didn't want to work with me. So, he made it clear to me that I need to get along with her.

 

 

 

You need to get along with EVERY ONE right now, not just her. Be a peach.  Let her continue to be herself, and eventually it will be clear to others that she is the difficult one, not you.

 

However, smile, be nice, don't gossip. Don't put anything in am email that you wouldn't want to discuss with your boss and HR. Never raise your voice.

 

If anything happens between this woman and you, just let it go. Don't tell your boss.

 

If you need to communicate with your boss about something she has or hasn't done, keep the exact facts of what you need with no mention of emotion or conflict.

 

Boss - just wanted to let you know that I need the blah blah to get started on XYZ and I haven't received it yet from Jane. I last emailed her about it date/time.

 

 


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#3 of 20 Old 02-12-2012, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Politics where I work can be pretty brutal. So I'm actually and old pro at the whole playing nice and being sweet as pie thing. I'm a naturally rather blunt person and ever so often I find myself making a decision to lay low for a while so as not to attract attention to myself after saying or doing something stupid. But since I work in a position that requires a lot of contact with a lot of different departments I usually bend over backwards to be helpful and accommodating to others. Which is a large part of why I disengaged from both situations once they turned heated, by telling her I didn't choose to discuss the issue with my son further, and referring her to my boss for attempt to change the planned training focus for the day. I just cannot figure out what I should have done differently (outside of not being friendly enough with her in the first place to vent about my visit with the school counselor - that was a mistake on my part).

 

Her impulsive job change does tell me that she lacks a certain ability to practice foresight and planning and that knowledge does actually help me out. Once you stop expecting someone to behave a certain way you stop getting upset when they don't. I also now see a bit of a love of drama and grandstanding that means I'll work extra hard to simply avoid her unless necessary so as to not get sucked into the drama.

 

It's silly, but I really think I'd feel better if I could just figure out what was my fault in this, what I should have done differently. Or if I could just somehow see this from her perspective to make sense of it

 

To me this is just such illogical behavior that I don't understand it. Which also means it's harder for me to avoid future unpleasant run-ins because I don't get it.


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#4 of 20 Old 02-13-2012, 02:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JollyGG View Post

Politics where I work can be pretty brutal. So I'm actually and old pro at the whole playing nice and being sweet as pie thing. I'm a naturally rather blunt person and ever so often I find myself making a decision to lay low for a while so as not to attract attention to myself after saying or doing something stupid. But since I work in a position that requires a lot of contact with a lot of different departments I usually bend over backwards to be helpful and accommodating to others. Which is a large part of why I disengaged from both situations once they turned heated, by telling her I didn't choose to discuss the issue with my son further, and referring her to my boss for attempt to change the planned training focus for the day. I just cannot figure out what I should have done differently (outside of not being friendly enough with her in the first place to vent about my visit with the school counselor - that was a mistake on my part).

 

Her impulsive job change does tell me that she lacks a certain ability to practice foresight and planning and that knowledge does actually help me out. Once you stop expecting someone to behave a certain way you stop getting upset when they don't. I also now see a bit of a love of drama and grandstanding that means I'll work extra hard to simply avoid her unless necessary so as to not get sucked into the drama.

 

Yes, which is why keeping your nose extra clean will be important until she moves on to her next drama.

 

It's silly, but I really think I'd feel better if I could just figure out what was my fault in this, what I should have done differently. Or if I could just somehow see this from her perspective to make sense of it

 

Honestly, it doesn't sound like you could have done much differently except to just not discuss parenting topics with her in the first place. I find that some people get personally offended if you decide not to follow their advice.

 

To me this is just such illogical behavior that I don't understand it. Which also means it's harder for me to avoid future unpleasant run-ins because I don't get it.


 

 


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#5 of 20 Old 02-13-2012, 02:34 PM
 
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Your fault only lies here, IMO:

When she told you you needed to see a family therapist because you "werent listening to your son", you should have simply smiled and nodded and thanked her for her advice. It never should have escalated to a point where she could say she didnt want you to talk about personal stuff. You shouldnt have told her you didnt want to talk about it anymore, you should have just said "Well, thanks, Ill take that into consideration." and dropped it completely.

However, you thought she was a friend, and she isnt. Im sorry youve lost a friend, sorry she has created drama at your work, and sorry that you now have to keep your nose clean and pretend that you dont hate her. She sounds like a total biotch. Its really unfair that you were talking about personal issues and in order for you to maintain some professionalism you would have had to act in a spineless way to keep the peace. Screw her.

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#6 of 20 Old 02-13-2012, 03:46 PM
 
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I agree with being supremely nice.  It works really well and brings the worst out in the right people.  She may walk around smug, let her.  She's not doing herself any favors.  Some people can make life brutal, but only if you let them.

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#7 of 20 Old 02-13-2012, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well I checked my schedule for the next two weeks. Looks like I'm busy with a completely different group all this week. Next week I'll have to see her but her supervisor will be standing there the whole time. Lucky for me her supervisor is new and I've been helping her get established, find her way around, learn some new techniques and so she thinks I'm awesome. Therefore I doubt that she'll say to much in front of her new supervisor that makes herself look to bad. If she does I'll just smile sweetly and go about my job.

 

Thanks everyone for the perspective.


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#8 of 20 Old 02-13-2012, 09:42 PM
 
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never talk about your personal life at work.

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#9 of 20 Old 02-14-2012, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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never talk about your personal life at work.



Yeah, that would be career suicide for me. I work in the type of place that has monthly socials, quarterly potlucks, you bring in cupcakes for your coworkers birthday..... There is a carefully created social atmosphere and if I decided not to share anything about myself at work it would be noticed and put me on a fast track to nowhere. I work in a department that provides a service to the other departments in my company. There is a lot of standing around and waiting for me to get done. The expectation is that I will make polite conversation during that time and remember that A's kid just headed off to college, J's wife is expecting a baby in June, M just got back from a conference.....I've worked with a lot of these people for 7 years. You form friendships. If I hadn't it would be seen as very odd and I probably wouldn't be where I am now career wise.


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#10 of 20 Old 02-14-2012, 07:44 AM
 
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My boss got, uncharacteristically, upset at me for the disagreement.

 

Friday he told me why. The reason she gave for changing jobs and leaving her position with him was that she didn't want to work with me. So, he made it clear to me that I need to get along with her.

 

 

I have a real problem with this! I find it very unprofessional that your boss even entered into this with you outside of a formal meeting-let alone told you the reason---what kind of response was he looking for from you? Does she want to go back to what she was doing and you are preventing this in some way?

 

I "get" getting along- but how much is expected beyond the professional level? No matter what type of environment you are in no one gets along with each and everyone ALL the time!

 

Have you thought about a sit down with your boss to talk things over? Are there others having "problems" with you or just her? Seem petty in a way how the boss handled this and does not see ALL issues have two sides. How much does this effect the overall job? Regarding reviews- are you due for one? If you doing fine (and helping out her supervisor looks like you must be OK or you wouldn't be doing that!) how much is this really a tiny thing being blown way of proportion? Seven years and this is it? 

 

You act professional and that is the way it should be. I know it can be hard but in the bigger picture here- how big is this?

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#11 of 20 Old 02-14-2012, 07:47 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JollyGG View Post

 

Yeah, that would be career suicide for me. I work in the type of place that has monthly socials, quarterly potlucks, you bring in cupcakes for your coworkers birthday..... There is a carefully created social atmosphere and if I decided not to share anything about myself at work it would be noticed and put me on a fast track to nowhere. I work in a department that provides a service to the other departments in my company. There is a lot of standing around and waiting for me to get done. The expectation is that I will make polite conversation during that time and remember that A's kid just headed off to college, J's wife is expecting a baby in June, M just got back from a conference.....I've worked with a lot of these people for 7 years. You form friendships. If I hadn't it would be seen as very odd and I probably wouldn't be where I am now career wise.



Same here. I only share positive details about my life, and am sincere - but at the same time not overly invested. I don't act fake, and I genuinely like most of my co-workers, I just don't share the nitty gritty details. Sometimes I'll share something like, "Oh man, DS had a horrible time sleeping, I think he had nightmares" but I don't share anything super detailed unless its a person I would actually see outside of work. Offerings of advice are always met with, "Thanks, I'll have to look into that." in a friendly, sincere tone - even if I think they're a complete nutjob for even thinking it.

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#12 of 20 Old 02-14-2012, 07:20 PM
 
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Quote:
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Yeah, that would be career suicide for me. I work in the type of place that has monthly socials, quarterly potlucks, you bring in cupcakes for your coworkers birthday..... There is a carefully created social atmosphere and if I decided not to share anything about myself at work it would be noticed and put me on a fast track to nowhere. I work in a department that provides a service to the other departments in my company. There is a lot of standing around and waiting for me to get done. The expectation is that I will make polite conversation during that time and remember that A's kid just headed off to college, J's wife is expecting a baby in June, M just got back from a conference.....I've worked with a lot of these people for 7 years. You form friendships. If I hadn't it would be seen as very odd and I probably wouldn't be where I am now career wise.


So, you share the "Christmas letter" version of your life and leave the more difficult stuff for someone else.

 

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#13 of 20 Old 02-16-2012, 05:34 PM
 
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There is a line. It is possible to be friendly without being overly familiar. I'm still working on finding that line, too.

 

And it is quite a different thing to keep track of the major things going on in other people's lives than to share the nitty gritty of your own.

 

Part of what started the original problem is that you were venting (your word). Venting is really not part of your social obligations at work.


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#14 of 20 Old 02-16-2012, 07:29 PM
 
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I noticed that in describing most of your interactions with her, you didn't give a lot of description of how you said things. For her you used words like "raged" and "stormed" but it's not clear if your voice was raised and you were getting heated, too. It's also not clear when you were angry at her for a month how that affected your interactions with her.

Based on what you wrote, I'd say your part of this includes:
- being overly personal at work and venting to someone there
- letting that conversation get to the point where you were both offended. When you saw that she was going in a different direction than you expected, you should have politely ended the conversation with something innocuous like "thanks for your perspective!"
- ending that conversation by saying you didn't want to discuss it with her anymore. Not that sharing her opinion was a great move on her part, but you did open yourself up to criticism when you brought up such a personal subject. There are more neutral ways to end it, if you're playing politics.
- After all this happened, you confronted her about leaving the room when it doesn't sound like it was your place to dismiss her from the training.
- Possibly raising your voice when she was so upset recently. She may have been upset because she perceives that you've been rude to her repeatedly (true or not) because each of these incidents could be seen that way from her perspective.

That's mostly just speculation on my part, only you will know if there is any truth in it. If she's getting upset with you, you really need to stay calm and be very, very nice and understanding while holding your ground. Which is not as easy as it sounds, I know. But if she's sensitive and/or a drama-lover, you need to tiptoe around this a bit to let things calm down. Then she can turn to her next target, when she sees it's not working with you.
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#15 of 20 Old 02-18-2012, 11:58 AM
 
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Quote:

 Earlier this week we had a bit of a blow out about something work related (not personal and not related to our previous disagreement).



If you're describing it as a blow-out, it sounds two-sided.  If she was acting a little crazy on her own, I'm not sure you would have called it a "blow-out"?

I agree with others:  Too personal.  Once you'd overstepped that boundary and it went awry, the onus was on you to get out of it politely by moving the conversation along.  Document everything, be professional, and move along.  


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#16 of 20 Old 02-18-2012, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Actually, when I get upset I get very cold, very quite, and very polite.

 

So no, I did not raise my voice, I was not rude, and I usually just calmly repeat something very simple such as, in the case of the training mess, "that will need to be discussed with my supervisor".

 

She may have felt a bit frozen out, but that is the extend of the hostility she would have gotten from me.

 

I did have the authority to kick her out of training. The intent of the training was that I be training in a particular technique. If a select group of others could benefit and learn from the training without compromising my learning they were welcome to attend. This select group included other users who had previously completed training with me on this machines use. She is not now and never has been a user of this equipment so was not invited to this training session. Her supervisors input was requested and valued which is why she felt she could be there. If her presence was a distraction I was well within my rights to politely ask her to leave, which is what I did.

 

Thanks for everyone who responded. I think I've gotten what I need from this thread. I made a poor choice in becoming friendly with this particular person, which I already knew. As long as I was polite her irrationalities are not my problem. I will continue to do what I have been and avoid her whenever possible and treat her with polite professionalism when I have to work with her.

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#17 of 20 Old 02-18-2012, 03:07 PM
 
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Quote:
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Yeah, that would be career suicide for me. I work in the type of place that has monthly socials, quarterly potlucks, you bring in cupcakes for your coworkers birthday..... There is a carefully created social atmosphere and if I decided not to share anything about myself at work it would be noticed and put me on a fast track to nowhere. I work in a department that provides a service to the other departments in my company. There is a lot of standing around and waiting for me to get done. The expectation is that I will make polite conversation during that time and remember that A's kid just headed off to college, J's wife is expecting a baby in June, M just got back from a conference.....I've worked with a lot of these people for 7 years. You form friendships. If I hadn't it would be seen as very odd and I probably wouldn't be where I am now career wise.


Even though you are expected to share your personal life (and I understand that) you still need to keep it shallow and benign.  johnny is good, sally's dance recital was just spectacular, Jim got a promotion at work sort, my mother in loaw cooked a beautiful roast for Sunday dinner kind of stuff.  I would keep  the negative and any problems etc to myself.  
 

I think she finds you stressful.  It would explain why she automatically jumped to the conclusion that you were the cause of your sons troubles and why family counseling might help.   Who knows why she doesn't like you.  if everyone else at works likes the job you are doing i wouldn't worry about it.

 

A better way to handle her suggestion would have been to smile, nod and say "that is some good insight.  I should talk to his Dr. about that.  Thank you for your concern.  I like the way yo think outside of the box" blah blah blah.  By validating her ideas it could have ended the conversation.  

 

I wonder if running to the boss, rather than confronting her directly was the best plan of action.  (I really don't know since I do not know you or her or your boss or how things are done in your office.)  Is there a chance for the two of you to get together and talk about how you can best work together?  Some way to get to know each other better so that you are not accidentally causing stress and friction with each other.   I had an employee who would not talk to me.  Ever.  apparently i scared her right out of the gate or she liked my assistant better.  Eventually we had to fire her.  But apparently there as something I did that made her stressed/uncomfortable/nervous  I don't know.  i am the least frightening person on the planet but  something made her dislike and distrust me.  If she had lasted longer it would have been to my benefit to find out what it is she did not like or found intimidating about me.  Maybe it was something i could change/explain and help her out a little.  My point is even if you are not doing anything wrong, or even a little wrong, she may have some kind of trigger or gut response to something you are doing that is irrational but never the less creating conflict at least in her mind.  Is there some way you could discuss it with her?  And then take a positive approach about discovering how the two of you could work best together.  finding our combined strengths etc....


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#18 of 20 Old 10-07-2012, 08:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It was forever ago that I wrote this but I thought I would update.

 

I had concluded that she was just someone who fed on drama, likely rather unhappy and had moved on with my life being courteous and polite whenever I had to interact with her. 

 

No one knows what was going on in her personal life but this incident was evidently just one early step in an implosion that resulted in her getting fired. Her behavior was increasingly weird and erratic. I really have no clue what was going on with her however, I'm not the only person who ended up having issues with her. She wasn't doing her job, she wasn't communicating effectively with her supervisor, her supervisor tried to recruit a new employee from a pool of current employee's who are getting laid off and was told by more than one that they wouldn't work with this person. One of them evidently was nearby during this exchange and basically said that this contributed to the reason why they wouldn't work with her. Her recollect of the incident is that I answered a question about how my kids stomach was doing politely and in a manner that you would expect in a work environment (I had missed a lot of work for his stomach issues) and that she went off on me in a baffling and weird way. They actually mentioned that they were shocked by the fact that I was friendly and polite to her through and after the whole thing.

 

I wish her well and hope that whatever was going on with her that resulted in her weird behavior is something she can work through successfully. It's however, now clear that it had nothing to do with me.


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#19 of 20 Old 10-07-2012, 05:37 PM
 
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I'm really glad everything worked out and now everyone can see that you weren't the issue. I also envy your ability to keep your cool. I have a tendency to get emotional and cry. I also share way too much with coworkers (one in particular) which backfired in a big way once. For me it's hard not to get lulled into a false sense of friendship. I'm really working on that.

Wife to dh, Mommy to ds1 12/2002, ds2 9/2005, and ds3 9/2008.
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#20 of 20 Old 10-07-2012, 06:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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While I agree that it's good policy not to over-share. I have recently discovered that my position funding ends in 8 months along with the funding for my entire division. I've worked with some of these people for 8 years. I've seen them start families, and their families grow. I've watched their careers grow. We've socialized for 8 years and I am going to truly miss most of them. I'm not disappointed that I formed friendships with the people that I spent 8 hours a day with for the past 8 years (that is over 15,000 hours). I'm going to maintain my friendships with as many of them as I can.

 

Yeah, one person I got friendly with was a mistake. I'll take the one mistake for the 10 friends I'll truly miss seeing every day.

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