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Author Topic: Recent Meeting-Please comment.
breath
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Hi Everyone

I just wanted to get your feedback on all this.

So I recently joined a volunteer program to intern as a clinic. Here is how it went:

1. First, I get a 20 min appointment with the director/my supervisor (who is about 8-9 years older than me) at a coffee shop. Very relaxed, chilled. He touches my arm / shoulder atleast 3 times just in a friendly casual manner. I just talk to him about college, degree, future goals, etc. He talked a bit about what the job is about, expectionations along with other random things and his life story. Fine.

2. Second day I come at 12:30PM the next day for training and orientation. During this time, as he's doing things (ie. patient stuff), he is like 'Breath, what did you do last night? I gotta tell you..tells me this kind of his meeting with a girl where they were drinking and she comes to his apartment and he is like she was aggressive and i was like 'oh..ok". he's like i get my work done (studying etc) as well as have a good time party. He also says since I once dated a girl 22 years old (i'm 22) and i felt that i was babysitting so i only date girls in a certain age range. Then after the shift is over, he's like hey, if you are free/ dont have much to do, I can show u this really cool coffee place and we can chat. I can tell u about the clinic work so it can count towards your work hours. So then we go to this coffee place, i offer to pay but he says to the cashier that shes' one of my students, etc so I let him pay.

Then we just sit and talk about stuff. ...he tells me about his work path and thoughts about his career (and i also aspire to enter the same field), and then he talks about his stuff with relationships ( he comments on how he foudn this girl hot, but knows that kind of girl he wants , comments that he has had lots of sex, indicates preference for finding/keeping women that were intelligent + beautiful ), girls, etc. and some family background stuff, siblings, parents, etc. he says he grew up conservative and didnt start dating/relationships until he was 25. also asks me what kind of person i am looking for in a guy, etc. natural conversation flow.

i'm pretty frank and speak my mind: parents topic come up and he tells me that he doens't speak to his dad, and i tell him that i haven't spoken to my dad when i was 12 years old etc. ...he has a weird way of teasing that i dont think is funny but OK fine whatever..
Then he says you wana come shoot pool in the lobby of my apartment and i shoot pool but i'm not very good at it. I say that you don't want to learn from me, and then i say that i cant' really play pool b.c the pool sticks sometimes happen to be too thick (which is true). i just didnt feel like making a fool of myself by playing shitting pool.

I was also just feeling uncomfortable at how "Fast" or "too frank too quickly" things were going. so then i just went home after the coffee place.


I realize that i would be saying 'im sorry i'm busy) in the future if such invitations for hang out come my way. i'm wondering
why did he do those things? I'm not very "HOT" very a petite skinny girl-next door type of girl. i DIdn't feel that he was hitting on me specifically.

ANy ideas or thoughts? This will help me out in the future too...

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OWL Dan
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It sounds to me like his interpersonal relationship boundaries are not well defined so he may not know what is appropriate for a boss and employee, but I doubt it. The other possibility is that he knows what his is doing and either can’t help it or doesn’t care. He may not have have any ill intentions but, either way, I would be careful and avoid being around him outside of a public/visible setting just to be sure. If you are still uncomfortable being around him, I suggest that you might consider looking for another internship.

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Dan

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breath
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I am sorry for being so "naive" and insisting like a "child" for reasons, but i am just trying to understand why this is not appropriate in general.

1) He's in his early 30-31 so it's obvious that he has had enough life experience to know how to treat a volunteer. I understand that's he's probably friendly around all 'volunteers' (and is known for his soft power) but simply put, what's the reason why someone should be careful being with him outside of work-setting? i also noticed how many times he used my first name (again to develop rapport, etc as it's general pychological fact that everyone loves the sound of their name)


1) he may be abusive and just looking to prey on young people as a way to assert his sexuality/masculanity etc?

I'm sorry again if i'm asking something that's obvious, but unfortunately i have NEVER had this kind of stuff and reasoning behind it explained to me before.

[ 01-14-2011, 08:09 PM: Message edited by: breath ]

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OWL Dan
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The kind of comments he has made about his personal life are the type of intimate details that most people would only tell a friend that they have known and trusted for a long time. You are still a complete stranger when it comes to this intimate level of information sharing. The reason I am cautioning you is because someone who has this level of boundary issues, may not always respect your boundaries whether it is unintentional or on purpose. I simply would like for you to be aware of this possibility; both at work and else where. I am not saying to be scared of him but just to be at a higher level of awareness and error on the side of caution.

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Dan

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breath
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I agree and it's best to stay away from such individuals and in fact, if anything - the message is to work *harder* to enforce your boundaries because he is a stranger (you have no info about him really even though you may work with him or in other circumstances you may find yourself in someone's house a guest-)


I knew this was weird from growing up but NEVER really understood the reasoning why.

He's someone who is going to run over your boundaries so i 'll practice saying 'im sorry im busy'. Often such individuals very consiously run over your boundaries....and unfortunately often have intentions to abuse/objectify others. It's the beginning...

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OWL Dan
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Breath,

I did not say that he would intentionally not respect your boundaries. I have not met him so I can’t begin to know his intentions. What I did say was, this type of personality might not be able to respect your boundaries or that there is a chance he might have other intentions. I am saying that it is best to be aware of the possibilities and to simply try to be in public (around others or visible to others) places when you are together with him. Once again, I have not met him so I can’t even guess his intentions. Give him a chance, he may be a nice guy without appropriate boundaries. Just be aware of the possibilities that he might make an innocent mistake or the less likely not so innocent move. I hope you understand the difference. [Smile]

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Dan

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breath
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unfortunately, i dont have or little sense of my own boundaries very strongly so time to be careful
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Heather
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This sounds to me like an employer behaving inappropriately and without professional boundaries. Very clearly.

For future reference, the advice I'd give you about socializing and workplaces is that when someone is your boss, socializing with them outside of work when it is very much not about work is something that probably should only be happening in groups, when they're socializing with a group of employers not just one. And if and when a boss does find themselves socializing with only one employee alone, they should be working very hard to maintain good boundaries, which certainly would not include talking about a date the night before with you right when you started working there and talking with you about what kinds of women he dates.

With co-workers, it's a bit different, since the power structure is different, but I agree: this guy SHOULD know how to work with volunteers in this regard, if he's going to be managing them (regardless of his age: he could be ten years younger or older, and if managing employees/volunteers is his job, he needs to be doing so professionally).

However, it seems very clear he does not.

[ 01-15-2011, 11:20 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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OWL Dan
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Breath,

Sorry, my mistake as far as my forgetting in this case that he is your boss. [Embarrassed] I agree with Heather about where things should be because he is your boss. I got caught up with the fact, just because someone has personality/boundary issues does not mean that they are always a threat.

[ 01-15-2011, 12:46 PM: Message edited by: OWL Dan ]

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Dan

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breath
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Thank you for response.

I have the naive nature or thinking pattern of a child, but now--as someone experienced and knows how "people work", he is likely very consious/aware of what he is doing and is looking for an intended "Effect on me". As long as I stay away and do not "go with the flow" and assert my needs/feelings to not want to be around him, it's going to be fine - I think.

He is someone who has excellent people skills with patients and others in the clinics, so he knows how to deal with people.

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breath
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I guess a healthy good start to anything (even a casual for fun affair) shouldn't start with someone stepping over someone's boundaries without consdieration or asking...
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OWL Dan
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Given your situation, you may want to look into another internship, at least as a back-up.

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Dan

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breath
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really? well - let's see how things go. either way, i 'll mention it to the hospital volunteer coordinator lightly.


I am trying to understand the wrong parts here:
1) THIS PERSON has stepped my boundaries, shows disrespect and doing so shows that there is usually an inner motive for them that they value over my self as a human being

2) stepping boundaries is usually the first step towards harassment/abuse..etc.

I had a similar situation while staying with a host aboard which got out of control and unfortunately i was not able to make a decision or had someone to talk to, at that time. [Frown]

[ 01-15-2011, 11:03 PM: Message edited by: breath ]

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Heather
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I think this is actually a lot more simple that that.

This person, just with how they already behaved, was simply not behaving professionally. They were not behaving in a way which is sound for an employer to behave with an employee, a la, asking you to hang out socially at their apartment, talking about their love life unsolicited, etc.

This isn't about where this leads or may lead, it's just about it being inappropriate in an employment situation, period. Talking to an employer about how this person may or may not value you as a human being would probably be perceived as not exactly being professional, either (in part because I'd say that's a massive leap). So, you'd want to just stick to the basics: your boss needs to be treating you and other employees/people he manages, like employees, not like potential dates or buddies.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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breath
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Thank you for this conversation. Unfortunately , I never really got this whole boundary thing cleared up and it was a big issue for me, esp when meeting new people.

Also, am i correct that *this* is not a healthy way to begin even a "short term affair physical thing etc". I want to have rules/ideas and stick to them even when the person is mildly OK...since often times, this is not a great start and no one should make exceptions just because the "the person transgressing the boundary looks mildy attractive" etc...

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Heather
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In general, I'd not advise anyone consider a sexual relationship with an employer. It's a great way to wind up with a very uncomfortable workplace and to lose your job. It also usually is not within the policy of most workplaces.

And yes: because we're attracted to someone doesn't make it sound for us to overlook anything that person does that makes it clear they may not be safe or sound. Someone being a person we find attractive doesn't mean we're any less likely to be hurt by someone who doesn't have good boundaries or respect ours.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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breath
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OK So I talked to hospital volunteer coordinator and she told me of another instance last semester where this person send text messages to another female (after a building up over a few months) and the incident were reported to the HR. The HR was suppose to notify him / his attending and we will find out if this incident happened before or after the notification.

I wrote him an email about my schuduel and asking for hours of volunteer. I no longer feel so compelled to work under him.

Can you tell me some reason why he wouldn't respond to the email (where I talked of hours I can volunteer in the clinic):

a. arrogant, narciassitic, unhappy that I didn't follow him to hook up

b. maybe there was no volunteer opportunities avaliable and he was just trying his hook up/feeling good about himself through this incident

c. he has a hint that someone might be reporting him so just being careful/uninterested..


Also, can you comment on this: I will wait to see HR action and his response to my email, and see what is decided. I want to see if he can keep a professional relationship but that does not seem likely. It seems like he wears this mask of "gregarious ,social personality" mask . If he was secure and confident, he didnt' have to use this mask, his authority/prestigious status to get women or girls... he does it because women get confused and he has leverage...

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Heather
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Sounds like this person has a history of inappropriate behavior. Good for you and on you for stepping up and saying something: I know that can be pretty scary or intimidating sometimes, especially in work environments.

We can't possibly know why he didn't respond to your email, but if he doesn't get back to you about those things in a few days -- which sound pretty critical to your work there -- then again, I'd go over his head about that to HR.

I'm also not comfortable psychoanalyzing this person or his motives, not knowing him at all or observing him myself, and think it'd probably be best if you tried to avoid doing that too. Why he's acted the way he did really doesn't seem relevant to me, nor to what you need to do in this situation. And again, I don't think you or I could make accurate guesses about how he's acting anyway, since you don't know this person at all well yourself.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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breath
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Ok. Fair enough.

Was I or am I being 'unreasonable' 'silly' or 'naive' when I thought that I don't know how things stand w.t.r. to my volunteer position, so I send him an email and said that I will see his behaviour at work and see how it is going?

Now that this HR thing is going on, we'll just have to wait and see. there is a chance that all volunteers will be removed from the program.

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OWL Dan
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Breath,

While I am sorry about you internship problems, I want to commend you for standing up for what it right and reporting his actions to HR! I agree with Heather that it doesn’t matter why he does things as much what he is doing. Please continue with taking the “stand up for your self approach” if he doesn’t come through with your hours and a safe working environment. On a side note, by doing the right thing and reporting him to HR, you may be also helping others who are currently or in the future working for him as well as taking care of yourself.

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Dan

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Heather
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I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. I thought the email you sent was to ask about your schedule?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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breath
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by breath:
[QB] Thank you for your support as I go through one of my first experiences of "standing up for myself" in new situations.


I am sorry for the wrong wording above.

5 days after all the interview, 3-hr training shift and coffee, I send him a brief, concise email about my schuduel and asking him for my hours.


He has not responded yet and is likely to not.

I am wondering if I was "naive" "silly" etc for sending the email and inquiring about my hours at work after such a meeting?


Then I went to also talk to Volunteer Manager who placement me with him. This is when I learned that he was already been reported to HR due to inappropriate conduct wtih another female volunteer. My story will also be notified to HR by the volunteer manager. Whether or not the HR takes it seriously and gives them a warning, that's another area of organizational politics etc. I am keeping my tabs on the situation and hope to be notified within 2 weeks of what is happening. I have also found another position.

Seems like if he does not respond to me about hours, I am not given a spot in the clinic. It may be due to the fact that i didn't meet his "criteria" since his goal - in addition to educating volunteers--seems to be to create situations that are beneficial to him w.t.r to women .


Therefore, this behaviour can be suspected of being discriminatory, bias etc when hiring people. And I can address that in a future letter to him or his boss correc

[ 01-21-2011, 11:28 PM: Message edited by: breath ]

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breath
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Also the Manager said that some of my comments in the coffee chat may be giving him ideas that I was innocently "flirting" or "consenting" to all this. Please share thoughts

Him: What kind of person are you looking for?
Me: (confused/unclear for a sec but thinking this is just small chat type of stuff): Just someone who is normal and healthy...not abusive, alcohlic etc.


or

Him: suggesting that I teach him to play pool and teach him
Me: (still causual thinking this is all friendly no worries, not interesting in pool): no, you dont want to learn from me

Him: (ignoring that and repeating in some fashion)
Me: I think the pool rods are too heavy for me to hold...(still not really interested in making myself a fool)

Him: *grinning* i'm sure we can find some kid rods for you..

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Djuna
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Your manager suggesting you might have been flirting too perhaps wasn't the most helpful suggestion. If you were to continue working in that situation, though, I can see hir point that if the supervisor starts with the flirting again, you need to (politely) make it clear that it makes you uncomfortable.

That said, being friendly to someone who then acts inappropriately does not put you in the wrong. Not at all. But your supervisor has a certain right to be told if he's making you feel uncomfortable.

For instance, if he touches your arm, I would say something polite but assertive along the lines of "Sorry, I like to keep my personal space at work - I get that it's well-meant, but I'd prefer if you didn't touch me." Or you could say something similar if he invites you back to his rooms or for one-on-one coffee again - "Sorry, I want to settle in, and I'm happy to socialize with you and the group, but I'd prefer that the two of us keep things professional. I compartmentalize."

Using "I" language - "I like my personal space" as opposed to "you keep touching me" - puts the focus on you, and can make it easier for your supervisor to accept what you're saying. "You" language can sometimes come across as a personal attack. The "I" language gives him a decent chance of reacting well without losing too much face, even though there's an implicit criticism of his appalling behavior. [Smile]

I think (people may disagree, and please go ahead) that it's unlikely that your supervisor was trying to be straight-up abusive. It's possible that he was trying to friendly but misjudged the situation completely. That's why I would say that "I get that it's well-meant." Again, this gives your supervisor a chance to change his behavior without feeling like he's a monster.

Of course, given his record with HR, maybe he just isn't a well-behaved person. In which case I would advise you to consider that other position you mentioned you'd got, assuming it's just as good a job.

By the way, I think mentioning it to HR was a really good idea, and well done for having the ovaries to take a stand like that. I hope the whole job thing works out, whichever one you end up doing! [Smile]

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Heather
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If this person is still your supervisor, sending memos or missives about your job duties is what is appropriate. That's not silly or naive, that's what's appropriate in any job.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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breath
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I am fine-while i am sad at the interesting opportunity that I may miss here unfortunately.

He has not responded to my email asking for job hours.

Is this because he is:

1) never really had the intention of taking up a volunteer person and was just preying/crusing?

2) unhappy and ackward at how the situation ended and I AM NOT LONGER USEFUL for *HIS* purposes.

I was upfront, spoken and direct and it was clear that I wasn't responding to his 'comments' in an inviting way. ie. " I don't know if there will be a next time", saying "not acceptable" when he begin to touch my shoulder as he would to his mom who is similar height, responding to his comment by saying "you are not getting any younger, etc".

[ 01-22-2011, 08:35 PM: Message edited by: breath ]

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breath
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Is this why people have STRICT boundaries at work/type situations even if the boss/supervisor/co-worker is being too friendly?
I mean, I may be OK with working professionally/compartentalizing,....often times, when other co-workers felt unhappy/uneasy , they will not separate personal/professional and their attitudes will spill over and hurt you professionally, even if you in theory were fine and in align with ur values?

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Heather
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Again, we can't possibly know this person's motives.

In terms of boundaries at work and your question around that, I'd say yes. At the same time, I don't know that I'd call not having private socialization with a boss on the first day at work a strict boundary, either. I'd say that this person crossed the boundaries pretty substantially here.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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breath
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quote:
Originally posted by Heather:
I don't know that I'd call not having private socialization with a boss on the first day at work a strict boundary, either. I'd say that this person crossed the boundaries pretty substantially here.

I am sorry , but can you rephrase that as I am not sure I understand this?


Secondly, this was also not a strict boss situation. i was volunteer aspiring to enter the profession and he was someone who was much exerienced advanced and gave the impressions like he's friendly,mentor etc (i encounter nice people like that in work/academia/school very often). I was told by the volunteer placement person that this person is GREAT mentor/teacher/inspiration model for many, many volunteers etc!

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breath
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After the coffee incident was ending, the verbal exchange was that through email, we will set hours. He did not say anything about me not being in/out of the program so per etiquette, so it is common in all volunteer positions to ask question about timing and hours.


I feel betrayed and angry at what is a clear discrimination and bias. HR might not do anything substaintial. I am thinking that for my own closure, if I don't hear from him in a week, I can go to his office and ask him in person: "HI XX, How are you? I would like to ask about my hours-i understand that there are some very specific criteria for who would be a good match at the clinic, and i wud like to know". somewhere along those lines. That will give me closure and also give him a hint that i know his business.

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breath
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No one should apologize here about writing so much, But I am very much unbelievebly outraged and angry at this person for what they did. It makes me cry.

I went into this program / volunteer position with high hopes and more , to get inspired on my career path. i was told by the manager/placement person that other youth have had great experiences here and it is really amazing. etc.

I found out / felt that maybe a little too many boundaries were being crossed too quickly after the interview/orientation by the 'superstar Supervisior/Mentor". But I didn't really know or hwo to place something that was initially or primed/conditioned to be so positive in my mind I first took as so positive. He was a bit weird at first (in terms of bad humor etc), but ok i got through the interview and orientation. I was confused/tried to go with the flow with this kind of talk/personal info that I was made to hear during the orientation.

Later on, esp at the comments at the coffee place, my friends told me that most likely, he was looking or thinking to have sex or some kind of sexual activity with me hence the numerous references to his GFs, sexual experience, etc and then the cold behaviour when I was no interested.

I have to commend myself for speaking up for myself at times during the coffee (" I dont know if there will be a second time', "no acceptable", etc) and not letting myself get with it. I also was relaxed and just really looked at 'just having a cup of coffee'. I admire myself for maintaining resolve, calm collection, and being civil to this person during those times. While he was not OK / not interested as at the end, I chose to leave alone--as per business , I asked him about when I ought to be in the clinic next. Again I am OK, fine and handled this the best way.

i wouldn't let someone's bad manners, short sight, interior motives, their self-centered ness, arrogrant, unethical, narraisitism that makes them take a seemly good situation to aid their personal benefits RUIN me, my peace of mind, my vision and belief in this field, and my passion to contribute to create a more lovable, just and good world.

It hurts, I'm sadden and shocked in a way to have this happen but I think I'll figure out a way to get closure

1) either by writing a letter to HIM and sharing it with the volunteer manager and HR
2) and/ or maybe going to his office and maintaining my position to inquire him about my hours, letting him that I understand that there are some very specific requirements to make the cut to volunteer in the clinic.

Everyone deserves respect and by having an advanced degreee, status age or lots of experience does not make it ok for one individual to supercede/dominate / subject unreasonable behaviour towards another person/subordinate. He or she is still subjected to those same rules of decency and conduct
If anything, it's good to learn this about him within 2 days of meeting then after 2 months to have this come suddenly. Also, I am sure that my assertive/confident behaviour made him feel insecure even more.... [Big Grin]

[ 01-23-2011, 01:39 AM: Message edited by: breath ]

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Heather
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In the interest of your work/career, I think your best bet is to keep this within HR for right now. If he has not gotten back to you by now about scheduling, I'd bring that to HR, too. I get being upset and angry about this, and wanting, emotionally, to deal with him directly, but I'd be cautious and make sure that you're not doing anything which will basically bite you in the bum when it comes to want you want with your work.

In case you need to hear it, any kind of sexual harassment or innuendo at work IS usually really upsetting and frustrating. Even when it's not that, just not being treated like a co-worker when that's what you are really, really stinks. I think your upset and anger here is justified, and I know (too well) how much it sucks.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Just saw your post in the other thread where you were able to express your very valid anger about this. Good on you!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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breath
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Yes, I realize that the issue keep in the back of my head because what I was feeling was anger (and very rightfully so). Somehow, in the past few years--in order to become "more mature" and "more sophisticated" and "grown up", I learned this habit of "not expressing as anger" as it seemed like that's all what cool smart mature people did.

I realize how that this is not true or healthy. angry is nice and normal and should be directed in a nondestructive way.

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breath
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I think that since this is a issue that is very relevant to me, what I'll do is that once the HR investigation is over (and maybe there may be a report etc ) and I have settled into my new position, which can takes weeks....and weeks...and weeks...
I'll go meet him in his area (state the obvious that I am volunteering here, but would like to meet and talk to him over coffee about how this whole issue of my working here went). I will be civil and friendly and will get my closure maybe in March sometime.

Of course i may feel differently and he may not be responsive/angry etc at me but ill try. atleast at this moment this thought brings me peace and contentment.

XOXOXO

[ 02-05-2011, 09:17 PM: Message edited by: breath ]

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