I am glad I found your website. I have been searching for answers how to fix a sensitive situation.
A year ago, my company had a major reorganization. I got a new strong manager. He is very business oriented and direct to the point. The change took me for surprise, and suddenly I started acting insecure and very emotional, and a cried a couple of times.
Then a co-worker who knew me before, asked me for my age. Then she told me that it looks that I am going through menopause and that was the cause that I was acting so strange because I was not like that before. After thinking it over, yes it made sense. I felt very embarrassed that I acted so emotional in front of my new older male boss. So, I went and told my boss that I was going through a women’s phase in life and that I was very emotional. He did not say anything.
6-8 months later, I was reassigned.
Was I wrong in confiding on him?
OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY JENNIFER GLUECK BEZOZA
Dear New Woman,
It seems that any level-headed employee – woman or man – might find it stressful and emotional to go through a major reorganization and simultaneously be assigned to a new manager. I can understand how you might have felt scared and intimidated by your “business-oriented and direct” boss and how that might have caused you to feel insecure and emotional.
I found your co-worker’s assertion towards you “that it looks like you are going through menopause,” inappropriate and offensive. It seems to diminish the possibility that your feelings and experience were completely natural and unrelated to your female hormones. After all, your manager impacts all aspects of your work experience, and adjusting to a new manager’ style and expectations can take time. I wonder if you really agreed with your co-worker’s assessment that menopause caused you to act emotional or whether you were just looking for an explanation for the perceived “irregularity” in your behavior. That is something only you can answer.
To your question of whether you were “wrong” to confide in your new boss, I do think it was the right decision to approach your boss and acknowledge your irregular behavior and take responsibility for your actions. However, I personally would not have advised you to explain your behavior by saying you were going through a female phase. If you had more of a social relationship with your manager and had built up credibility and trust, I might advise you differently. Given that you had a new supervisor and could not yet read his comfort with such sensitive female matters, I do think it would have been better to tread cautiously and keep the details out of your acknowledgment and merely look to apologize for your irregular and uncharacteristic behavior. At the same time, I agree that he might have been more empathic towards your sharing of personal information.
Given that you were reassigned 6-8 months after this discussion, it is difficult for me to evaluate how this factored into your manager’s decision. Your manager and the organization owe you a clear explanation on what led to the reassignment.
Going forward, I would advise you to evaluate your relationship and level of trust with the individual colleague and/or leader before sharing such details. You also may want to document conversations and behavior when you feel it is inappropriate and discriminating. At the end of the day, no matter what your circumstances are, it is your responsibility is to act professional and get results in the workplace.
I hope that your reassignment proves to be for the best in the end.
Thank you for writing Office Politics.
Jennifer Glueck Bezoza, MA
Jennifer Glueck Bezoza has an MA in organizational psychology from Columbia University and a BA in psychology and humanities from Stanford University. She currently works in Organizational Development for the largest not-for-profit home health organization in the country where she focuses on succession planning, leadership development and coaching. Previously, she worked for GE Commercial Finance and HR consultant, Towers Perrin.