But you told me that was not valid....
April 17, 2012 5:55 PM   Subscribe

Work conundrum, what should my response be?

I am a faculty department chair. The previous department chair (PDC) is now one of my department╩╗s faculty. I am not actually a boss or supervisor. The PDC is now in the situation asking me for permission (of a kind) to do things. I am very lenient and usually leave it up to the faculty to decide what they think is right. The odd thing is that the PDC is using the justifications for things he wants to do using justifications I gave him years ago, which at the time he told me were incorrect. I knew they were correct at the time and had major arguments with this person.

My inclination is to be a jerk and point out his inconsistency, perhaps saying, "well, when I told you that, you told me I was wrong." But that is not really my style. So how do I get across the fact that when it was someone else making the point it was wrong, but now that it is him making the same point it is right. This person is know as a user, something of the camel with his nose in the tent. He keeps pushing and pushing and trying to get more. The rest of the faculty avoid dealing with him because of this.

I feel kind of abused by this and I am trying to deal with this feeling. Any ideas? Have you been in this or a similar situation? What did you do?
posted by fifilaru to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This sounds like the kind of person who would claim that his reasoning now is different than yours was then, based on any circumstantial fact he can grasp at. Just allow it, shortly and sweetly, and move on, IMO, being careful to take a day or so with any future decision for this person to be sure you're doing what you really want to do rather than being pushed around.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:01 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's so tempting to be unfair to the unfair (take that!), but a good leader is not vindictive. You have to judge what he wants on his on its merits and not allow yourself to be a bully or a pushover.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:03 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Don't bother pointing out the inconsistency... take the high road and just agree with him now. No good can come of starting an argument, especially since you must agree since you made these same justifications in the past.
posted by barnoley at 6:04 PM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

Do you want to be effective or do you want to be right? You can't get both.

(There's a time and a place to choose being right over being effective, but possibly not at work.)
posted by jeather at 6:12 PM on April 17, 2012

Don't be passive-aggressive. It's just cloaked aggression.

Treat others with the same respect with which you would like to be treated. Lead by example.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:44 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Point out the inconsistency in an obviously passive-aggressive way

This might be painting with too broad a brush, but I'm going to go on record as saying that this is never good advice for the workplace. Or probably any place.
posted by toomuchpete at 6:49 PM on April 17, 2012

Would you let any of the other faculty do it? If so, let him. If not, disallow it. Fair is fair. Don't apply rules unfairly.
posted by inturnaround at 7:42 PM on April 17, 2012

I may be missing something obvious, but why wouldn't this please you? Why wouldn't you assume he's learned something in the intervening years, and be happy about that?

I have always found it useful to let people grow and change. I wouldn't hold him to things he said years ago: I'd be happy that now he knows better :-)
posted by Susan PG at 8:18 PM on April 17, 2012

What's the best possible endstate of you pointing out that he's acting differently now than he used to? Unless your department is time travel, the best possible endstate is his saying, "Hey, you're right. I was a dick back then." On the other hand, you could make an enemy who is probably still pretty powerful.

As for the part about him being pushy and camelesque, that's an independent issue. Take it up with him and say, on an occasion that he's doing it, "Bob, I've told you my decision. That's as far as it's going to go. We're done." Don't make it about how he always does this. Eventually, either he takes the hint or you get really good at saying, "Bob, I've told you my decision. That's as far as it's going to go. We're done."
posted by Etrigan at 8:57 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

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