Days have passed since I heard the most ridiculous remarks made about me. I must confess that I am still upset.
For the first time in more than 15 years of working, to my huge surprise, how my face looks has become a matter of concern to be discussed in a job review. I was told that I look stern, cold and intimidating. Someone finds me "scary" because I don't chat with that person as I do with other colleagues. There were also complaints about my agitation and assertiveness at times, which can be misinterpreted as being abrasive and even offensive.
Fine, point taken for the last one, although personally I'm not convinced that to compromise or submission without making my point across is in any sense constructive. The manner of articulation may be adjusted, but I stand firm to what I truly believe.
Back to the first point: I have come across very harsh, mean and unreasonable people at work in previous jobs, but none of them ever criticised my face. A few colleagues who end up being close friends of mine did tell me that I look a bit cool and serious at first glance, but over time they know what my true self is. Even though I may look grumpy, I'm not really angry with anyone but how things go. I never yell at people at work, even when they make mistakes. I try to understand why, show my empathy and sort out a solution with them, so that they can learn how to avoid repeating the wrong. I make mistakes too and this is how I want to be treated. I just think this is the best way to get things done properly. Pointing accusing fingers or venting one's emotions just doesn't do any good.
Everyone has his/her own logic and way of seeing and interpreting the world. Everyone is free to express what he/she thinks. But whether or not such comments should be taken seriously is another matter. I assume the fact that those remarks were relayed to me because the speaker somewhat agrees with the view, feels some sort of magnitude and wants to resolve the "problem" so that everyone would be happy. But sorry, no. I am not happy hearing this. How can I? How can I be happy when someone is unhappy seeing my face and telling me so?
I just do not understand at all why my face looks to one person or two should become a concern to be discussed, improvements expected as it was hinted, in a working context? What am I supposed to do? Laugh like a dog running after its tail? Pretend to be very interested in talking to someone who knows little other than work and does not share any common interest with me? Or perhaps even a facelift or plastic surgery - subsidies required, of course - to bring the downward-pointing corners of my mouth upside down like Joker in Batman? What if someone tells me two weeks later that, "Hey, why are you always laughing like that? Are you nuts?"
Isn't it obvious that whether this matter, little more than how one or two persons see me through their subjectivity, should ever be brought up in a job review is highly questionable? It is good to be honest, but honesty does not mean telling every single detail of what you think or believe, regardless of the context and whether it is appropriate to do so. Not to mention how the message is conveyed also matters. In this particular case, I do not agree that honesty helps. It may make someone feel more comfortable having the concerns voiced, but I must say I am very uncomfortable hearing all those comments about how I look. It prompts me to call into question the sense of judgement and management capabilities of the speaker. To me, the fact that it is a matter of discussion at work is utterly inconceivable. The grudge, if it ever exists, is not narrowed but widened, or relocated from one to another. Any hope to wipe out any uneasiness in the team is nothing more than wishful thinking.