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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm being angsty and analytical again, in trying to better comprehend french culture and practices, in the aim of improving relational exchanges and being more efficient.

I realize it is probably too deep for some - if so, I won't be offended if you ignore it!

I just look for places where I can gather reflections on certain subjects from others who might be similarly drawn to such activities.

I struggle a lot with the french approach to conflict. It often seems to me to be a product of my american conditioning - after all, they often characterize us Americans as being "too puritan" or morally rigid. I saw the other day the expression "trop scrupuleux" as social disfunction. It was thought provoking -can a person have too many scruples?
Be too concerned with ethics and morals? Is there a disfunction with being concerned about our effect and impact upon others?

It seems to me that the french around me identify rather easily with their negative emotions like anger - yelling out, "Ca va pas? Imbecile!" is more easily accepted as appropriate than the way I was conditioned to respond to negative emotions.

Calmly sitting down with the person and saying, "When you do that, I feel angry, because I feel like you are not respecting me. Is that accurate? " -then listening to them describe what they feel and think (calmly), is what I was taught to do and what was always done with me. The aim being to understand each other and find a more mutually respectful and beneficial way of acting with each other.

Every time I make such an attempt with a french person, they get very hostile, as if my dialogue is even more offensive and aggressive than if I had just yelled out an insult instead.

The only other acceptable approach seem to be passive aggressivity. Using sarcasm and irony to criticize or insult, "forgetting" to do things asked of you, or otherwise claiming kind intent behind ultimately damaging actions. All ways of avoiding accountability.
I have actually had people counsel me to act in such ways, describing it as the art of subtility, instead of what we call it - passive aggressivity (a symptom of mental illness in our culture).

I've asked french people if they know of the term "passive aggressive" and so far no one has answered in the affirmative. I once found a french definition which simply described it as a "refusal to submit to authority". That surely can be the case if one is being passive aggressive with an authority figure, but it does not refer to interactions between people of equal status.

So... being passive aggressive seems to be seen as the smart persons way of attacking another without suffering consequences. It has a positive value. Perhaps this was born from the French Resistance in WW2?? :)

I don't know. But I find myself running up against a deep blockage here- both with the identification with negative emotions (being your anger), and with the sneaky play of passive aggressivity (acting it out but denying so).

I can fall into passive aggressivity as easily enough as anyone else, and often end up doing so when I attempts at open dialogue fail. But I don't like myself then, and will tend to fall into a morose state, unable to escape my internal self condemnation. This is read in my body language and I probably seem depressed to others. That won't help anything.

But I also can't seem to just yell at others in spontaneous irrational outbursts. I think there is such a strong early conditioning in me I can't do it even if I try. I once had a woman in a grocery store walk by me and kick me on purpose, (probably because her husband was checking me out, and I was just as uncomfortable with that as she was) and the closest I got to a spontaneous reaction was to go up to her and ask, "Why did you kick me?" - which of course was followed with a smirk and claim she did no such thing. End of exchange.

A coworker who was prone to being hostile towards others when stressed (who had actually forced others to quit, after breaking into sobs repeatedly faced with her attacks), I once tried to talk to the american way- "When you speak to me that way, and call me a "conne", I feel like you don't respect me, and I have trouble hearing what it is you are actually asking from me. I feel troubled and that gets in the way of comprehension for me. Could you maybe phrase things differently, so I can better understand and do what you are asking of me?"

It resulted in her going ballistic and basically running off yelling that I am pissing her off. (with no improvement in our relationship). It even might have been a factor in some rather sneaky attempts to destroy my work later.

Is my way of approaching relational conflicts really typically american? Bev? Where you raised this way?
I was raised by a psychologist and a psychoanalyst/professor of philosophy - I sometimes wonder if my habits are more a result of a specific "different" education, or really part of our collective values as Americans.

I do not believe in any "universal" ethics or morals; I am not religious at all. I don't believe my way is "better" than any other, and I do prescribe to the idea "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

I do believe in caring about ones impact and effect upon others, and if your attempts to do so are having a negative effect, then- change them.

But some behaviors, I am finding, are impossible to change, even with a lot of effort!

Have you guys found a different sort of behavior on the part of french people around you? I wonder also if it is a matter of local customs and values- like some attitudes I have found can be chalked up to being a rural area rather than urban.
 

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I'm not going to bother to quote your entire post, it would be pointless unless I was going to analyse it, point by point.

Stop being so American! You are winding yourself up over nothing but what is inside your own head. Relax and just accept that different people, even different races have different attitudes towards all parts of life. I live in Andalucía in Southern Spain where foreigners condemn the locals for their "mañana attitude," thinking that it means they couldn't care less about anything. On the contrary, Spaniards DO care but see no point in getting worked up about things.

Our new neighbours (Brits) are sun-worshippers but have found that this hot weather is just too much so they wanted some aircon in a couple of rooms. They went to the store that we had recommended on Saturday morning expecting to have to wait a couple of weeks for the installation to be done. The guys were there Saturday afternoon and didn't leave until 11.40 pm (one of the units didn't work as well as it should so they sent back to the store and got another one out and replaced it straight away!) A couple of other jobs they have wanted doing for which we have recommended Spanish workers that we know and the jobs have been done quickly and efficiently, far better than they would have been back in UK.

The French, similarly, have their attitudes and way of working and, while it may not be the way you would do things, they have their own way which suits them and their clients. It's their country so it is their right. They would probably be horrified to see the way things are done in the US

"Relaxez-vous!"
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I actually just came across a very interesting perspective to this!

The contrasting ideas of "Guilt culture" versus "Shame culture".

France is one of those often described as a Shame culture, while the US is a highly Guilt type culture.

A definition by Paul Hiebert:

"Guilt is a feeling that arises when we violate the absolute standards of morality within us, when we violate our conscience. A person may suffer from guilt although no one else knows of his or her misdeed; this feeling of guilt is relieved by confessing the misdeed and making restitution. True guilt cultures rely on an internalized conviction of sin as the enforcer of good behavior, not, as shame cultures do, on external sanctions. Guilt cultures emphasize punishment and forgiveness as ways of restoring the moral order; shame cultures stress self-denial and humility as ways of restoring the social order. "(Hiebert 1985, 213)

Shame is a reaction to other people's criticism, an acute personal chagrin at our failure to live up to our obligations and the expectations others have of us. In true shame oriented cultures, every person has a place and a duty in the society. One maintains self-respect, not by choosing what is good rather than what is evil, but by choosing what is expected of one. (Hiebert 1985, 212)



Me being from a guilt culture, it is probably expected that I find it terribly difficult to go against my internal conscience, no matter how much exterior influences indicate differently. I feel accountable for my actions no matter what.

Whereas in this culture (ni vu, ni connu...) if you doing what you are told to do, or pressured to do by others, then you are doing right and are not accountable. It's not your fault.

That sort of makes sense of the way people are never admitting mistakes here, and always saying it was the fault of whoever is above them!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm not going to bother to quote your entire post, it would be pointless unless I was going to analyse it, point by point.

Stop being so American! You are winding yourself up over nothing but what is inside your own head. Relax and just accept that different people, even different races have different attitudes towards all parts of life. I live in Andalucía in Southern Spain where foreigners condemn the locals for their "mañana attitude," thinking that it means they couldn't care less about anything. On the contrary, Spaniards DO care but see no point in getting worked up about things.

Our new neighbours (Brits) are sun-worshippers but have found that this hot weather is just too much so they wanted some aircon in a couple of rooms. They went to the store that we had recommended on Saturday morning expecting to have to wait a couple of weeks for the installation to be done. The guys were there Saturday afternoon and didn't leave until 11.40 pm (one of the units didn't work as well as it should so they sent back to the store and got another one out and replaced it straight away!) A couple of other jobs they have wanted doing for which we have recommended Spanish workers that we know and the jobs have been done quickly and efficiently, far better than they would have been back in UK.

The French, similarly, have their attitudes and way of working and, while it may not be the way you would do things, they have their own way which suits them and their clients. It's their country so it is their right. They would probably be horrified to see the way things are done in the US

"Relaxez-vous!"
ohhkayyyy... you see, I am under pressure by many people, including my doctor, to press charges against a coworker. Things have gotten very serious. My job, my health, are under duress. This woman has chased away many new employees in tears. She has gotten into my files and destroyed my work. She whispers insults at me all day long. I am on Xanax and dealing with a newly discovered thyroid tumor at the same time.

These are silly musings to a retiree, but for me the french and their way of doing things are not something separate from me and my life- I am in the middle of them, they are a direct influence on my life, my income, my career. Knowing how to face harrassment effectively in this context is vital to me.

I'm sorry if it seems trivial to you- I can understand that. But I am trying to remain civil in a situation which has left those before me emotionally destroyed and unemployed (without chomage, mind you, you don't get that when you run out in a nervous breakdown).

How do you handle such situations? Without thinking about it and choosing carefully?
Like in the situation where a stranger kicked me in public - when people do that sort of thing to you, how do you react? "Live and let live, that is their way, bless their hearts". ?
 

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Ooooh boy, have you opened up any number of "heavy" ponderings similar to what I've gone through over the years here!

Is my way of approaching relational conflicts really typically american? Bev? Where you raised this way?
Yes, you're being "typically American" (at least IMO), but no I can't say I was raised in the same way. (Then again, my father's side of the family is of French origin via Canada, and I've always considered some of the "peculiarities" here in France to be reminiscent of some of the attitudes on that side of the family.)

A couple of my own observations that bear on your conundrum here...

In France it seems to me that "courtesy" consists of very specific rules of behavior taught to you as a child (unless you were "mal élevé" - which a surprising number of folks here seem to have been <bg>. There isn't this notion (which I think is kind of American) that you do what you can to consider the feelings of the other person. If someone yells at you, you yell back - tell them to go to hell or walk away and avoid them until they chill out. If it's your boss who does that, you take it and then slink back to your colleagues and grouse about what a nasty PITA he or she is. If someone calls you a "conne" you answer with "salope" or something similar. (Actually, I can't count the number of times I have heard that precise exchange: "Con(nne)!" "Salope!" At which point the "discussion" ends and both parties walk away.)

And as for the term "passive aggressive" - avoid it like the plague!!! I once accused my French husband of being "passive aggressive" and he basically tweaked on the term "aggressive" and really got upset. "Aggressive" seems to have implications we poor foreigners (or at least we poor anglophones) will never and can never fully fathom. But passive aggressive reactions do seem to be incorporated into the French national character. One of those things we'll never be able to change.

At a certain point you have to kind of accept the fact that this is the way things are in France. Having been raised elsewhere, we'll never completely understand (though we'll continue to keep on trying to understand because that's how we were raised).

Conflicts here seem to be a normal part of any relationship. Actually, one of the first new expressions I learned on first coming to France is that little expulsion of air from the lips so many folks here use to mean, "yeah, so you caught me - so what?" or "like I give a damn" or any of a number of other disdainful messages. It comes in handy more than I should probably admit. The French are more expressive of their exasperation and frustration than we (uptight) anglophones tend to be - and more able to blow off someone's unseemly (to us) expressions of whatever.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Just an added comment - I think you're right that this is a "guilt culture" vs. "shame culture" kind of thing. If you're being urged by folks around you to press charges, you should probably consider doing so. Get those who are goading you into it involved (so that ultimately you have the "ce n'est pas ma faute" excuse).

One of the hardest things for us 'merricans to learn is to rely on the people around you to guide you. We were raised to "go it alone" - which is definitely NOT the French (or even European) way.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just an added comment - I think you're right that this is a "guilt culture" vs. "shame culture" kind of thing. If you're being urged by folks around you to press charges, you should probably consider doing so. Get those who are goading you into it involved (so that ultimately you have the "ce n'est pas ma faute" excuse).

One of the hardest things for us 'merricans to learn is to rely on the people around you to guide you. We were raised to "go it alone" - which is definitely NOT the French (or even European) way.
Cheers,
Bev
Sigh....on one hand it is comforting to know I am not the only one who grapples with such things.

I have a lot of trouble (blockages even) with playing the victim card. There has been lots of situations where everyone around me will counsel me to do that, and there is something fundamentally "wrong" in it for me. If you claim victimhood, you are denying your individual power and responsibility.



Shrink parents drum into your head that the worst thing one can do is be passive aggressive, or not take responsibility for your own life and choices.


Basically, I feel like when I have tried all venues of open communication and fair negotiation and the other has refused, then each day I choose to return to that same job is on me. It is my choice then. If I am unhappy, I should simply leave.

It's kind of like the problematic american belief that your health is your responsibility - you have cancer? Surely your fault (bad lifestyle and habits) and only for you to pay for!
(look at this- I find out I have a tumor, and I am blaming myself- it is probably because I don't speak up for myself enough "ça reste a travers ma gorge", or "j'ai des boules" !).

So I am trying to find ways of speaking up that work better than the shrink talk (better adapted to therapy contexts...).
But have you ever seen someone who is normally very self controlled try to be aggressive??

It often comes out totally off the wall, too much, and tinged with repressed fermentation.

Not much better, really.

The most common solution people around me say is to do exactly the same thing in response. Get sneaky, mess up her work, call her names under my breath, etc.

I run into the conscience thing again. I have to be able to sleep with myself at night.
 

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ohhkayyyy... you see, I am under pressure by many people, including my doctor, to press charges against a coworker. Things have gotten very serious. My job, my health, are under duress. This woman has chased away many new employees in tears. She has gotten into my files and destroyed my work. She whispers insults at me all day long. I am on Xanax and dealing with a newly discovered thyroid tumor at the same time.

These are silly musings to a retiree, but for me the french and their way of doing things are not something separate from me and my life- I am in the middle of them, they are a direct influence on my life, my income, my career. Knowing how to face harrassment effectively in this context is vital to me.

I'm sorry if it seems trivial to you- I can understand that. But I am trying to remain civil in a situation which has left those before me emotionally destroyed and unemployed (without chomage, mind you, you don't get that when you run out in a nervous breakdown).

How do you handle such situations? Without thinking about it and choosing carefully?
Like in the situation where a stranger kicked me in public - when people do that sort of thing to you, how do you react? "Live and let live, that is their way, bless their hearts". ?
Ah, now you see. You only gave part of the story to start with leading me to go off on completely the wrong tack. I have always used humour to defuse situations that are not within my control. Humour, of course, varies from nation to nation but, invariably the slap-stick type is most easily transportable from culture to culture and can bridge language difficulties but quite how it will pan out in your particular situation, I am not sure. However I do think you need to stop assuming the problem is with you, rather than the other person.
 

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My daughter started work as a kitchen help in a local gastronomic restaurant. Cutting vegetables and just getting everything ready for the big chef to come along and do his magic. She's fast and efficient, keeps her mouth shut and gets on with her job.

Big chef was always in a temper, insulting, humiliating, yelling at all of his staff. All that p1ssed my daughter off because it was a convenient part time job just 5 minutes walk from home and suited her well but not with the hassle. She'd reluctantly made her mind up to quit.

We chatted and I told her to talk to the boss, point out to him that he was stupid to drive away away a good worker for once he held one, he was working against his own interests and certainly deserved the unskilled, unmotivated, unproductive replacement kitchen slave he'd have next week when she left.

Boss loved it, gave her a pay rise and stopped hassling (her). Lots of megalos in work situations keep on dealing it out because so many subordinates behave like victims.
 

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ohhkayyyy... you see, I am under pressure by many people, including my doctor, to press charges against a coworker. Things have gotten very serious. My job, my health, are under duress. This woman has chased away many new employees in tears. She has gotten into my files and destroyed my work. She whispers insults at me all day long. I am on Xanax and dealing with a newly discovered thyroid tumor at the same time.

These are silly musings to a retiree, but for me the french and their way of doing things are not something separate from me and my life- I am in the middle of them, they are a direct influence on my life, my income, my career. Knowing how to face harrassment effectively in this context is vital to me.

I'm sorry if it seems trivial to you- I can understand that. But I am trying to remain civil in a situation which has left those before me emotionally destroyed and unemployed (without chomage, mind you, you don't get that when you run out in a nervous breakdown).

How do you handle such situations? Without thinking about it and choosing carefully?
Like in the situation where a stranger kicked me in public - when people do that sort of thing to you, how do you react? "Live and let live, that is their way, bless their hearts". ?
How to handle such situations?
This is a case of "harcelement morale ou travail".
You could choose to do nothing and continue to suffer
but your moral duty is to fight this.

https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2354

https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F32247

Your employer is legally responsable for preventing it.

When you have taken the firm decision that you will not allow your life to peter out in that way, confront your co-worker and inform her of your decision. Next your employer, the prud'hommes or gendarmerie. Empower yourself and life will get its sweet taste back.

I wish you strength and courage.
 

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I know just what you mean about the "blame the victim" thing in the US - or more generally, you control your own life and existence and if you're (choose one or more) sick, unhappy, depressed, frustrated, "not living up to your potential" etc. etc. it's all your fault. You only have to "assert yourself" to make things all better. Rubbish, quite frankly.

I've been reading quite a few novels lately set during or just before WWI or WWII - and it's kind of amazing how "out of control" people's lives became at the time. Through no fault of theirs, but just because, well, sh!t happens.

Speaking up may be the answer - or it may be a better strategy to lay low, continue collecting your pay check and find something other than your work that matters to you in your life. (The old "live to work" vs. "work to live" thing.) That's another big difference between the US and here. Being an expat can be hard work.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Interesting thread. Bluesma unfortunately I have no advice about what to do with your workplace bully. I'm sorry you're going through that. I've had workplace harrassment/sabotage in the US. I "took" it for as long as I could until I went into my boss' office crying and after that, my boss talked to her boss and she (mostly) left me alone. I had a good relationship with my boss though, so, that helped. So yeah not sure how that works in France.

Anyway, I think growing up with psychologist parents is something setting you apart. I was reading how rational and considerate and open dialogue and non-blaming all your responses were and was thinking "wow, most people aren't like that!" however I've done some psychology volunteering and other things myself (so at the very least have at least had minimal counseling-type training), and that is how we're told to be. Then when I saw you say that you were raised by psychologists, I was like, aha! Haha. For most people, even in America, I think it takes therapy and training to GET to where you are -- to not react in anger and immediate blaming or projecting etc. But to be rational, diffuse the situation, etc. I grew up in a somewhat dysfunctional household so I've slowly been attempting to "re-train" my initial reactions. Can't say I always succeed though.

That being said, I agree that Americans might have more of an inkling to be polite, not speak up or say what you truly feel for fear for hurting the other person. We're basically just supposed to go along with what others say, even if we don't necessarily agree, because otherwise it might be rude. We're not really supposed to voice when we're upset or discontent, either, because being "negative" or "unhappy" in America seems to be some kind of ultimate Sin. Like you're one of those annoying mope-y people ruining everyone's fun that just isn't being positive enough. I definitely did NOT feel THAt when in France...like I said, while in Europe, I actually annoyed some other people (notably British people) for my "positive American" attitude. Smiling, looking at the glass half full, etc. which was funny because again in America people think I'm super dark and cynical. Someone even called me "cynical piss face" in one of my yearbooks (a friend even!) So you know... But see that's all part of my own journey. I was very negative and angry and reactive based on how I grew up, and it's taken a LOT of effort on my part over the years to try to change that and BE more positive, more calm and less negative. But then I go to Europe and they're like "ew lol why are you so positive" ah well

(ps - I'm glad your parents told you not to be passive aggressive. they're right :p)

And when someone wants to bait you into a fight, they WILL get mad if you try to be rational and calm. So it makes sense that that would anger your toxic coworker even more. But I don't think you should resort to name calling her back. Maybe just try ...being firm as short answers as possible and not give her any more fodder? I don't know. That doesn't work either. but like, maybe be assertive to get her to back the f-- off but without stooping to her level of name calling or histrionics. Bullies like that....I agree that the boss/company needs to do something. They don't usually stop on their own.
 

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Hi Bluesma,

I sympathize with you because I was bullied at my last job in the US. It all started when he tried to expand his team, and everything got out of control for him. So he took out his frustrations and poor management skills out on us. Several people quit, but there were a good amount of people who stayed and took it.

I think the more the bullys "see" that they are irritating you, the more they will bully. On the other hand, there are people who are just normally a$$holes and could care less about anyone else's emotions. Sometimes I wonder if that's just the best way to go.

There's one example I have where I got in a conflict with a French relative. She wasn't being passive aggressive, but rather, just aggressive. So, I wrote her a long letter explaining to her how I felt, expecting that we would meet in the middle and she would explain and analyze her own feelings as to why she was treating me like that. In the end, I got a one sentence reply saying that "Everything was okay and not to worry."

I do think that Americans definitely "talk" our feelings out waaaaaay more than the French. If the coworker were you friend, maybe she would take the time to respond to you. However, since she is a coworker, she is probably not thinking about your feelings and not willing to put the effort to explain or justify herself.

It might help you to do a pros/cons list. Reasons to stay vs. reasons to leave. That usually helps me visualize the priorities.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the good advice and thoughtful sharing.

The situation feels like it is poisoning me. She is a pain in the ass to everyone, but I am the only person who has to sit next and work in collaboration with her. I really try to diffuse her bad moods with some jokes and keeping a good attitude no matter what. But it is draining.

She is dealing with new responsibilities at this time, and so makes mistakes. When that happens, and she becomes aware of it, she suddenly looks for someone to take it out on. Once she's spit some venom at me she suddenly becomes calmer- for a few minutes anyway. It's gotten to the point where I try to find an excuse to go somewhere else when I see someone come up and tell her she screwed up.

The manager told me she would change my desk and get me further away from her, but it hasn't happened yet. I might have to quit my job because I can't sleep at night. The doctor gave me Xanax, but I don't take it because it makes me so sleepy (I have to be very mentally alert in this job).
 

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When dealing with difficult people, the best solution I've found is to run it out; just focus all of my stress and negative energy on physical exertion. It will naturally help release some endorphins and make the problems seem less monumental and easier to cope with.

In regards to moving desks, I would definitely highlight that as an urgent todo for your manager.

The next time your colleague spits venom, try giving her that dead fish stare like you could really care less, or start doing a mental grocery shopping list in your head, and change your body language to show you are not interested. Turn your body slightly away, look slightly above her eyes, yawn if you can. The more uninterested and unresponsive you are to her, the less she will be able to use you as a punching bag. It's clear she does not know how to release her emotions, other than to bottle them up and then shoot them off on someone else as anger. She's just being a bully and the best you can do is to not let that bully invade your space.
 

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Hi Bluesma,

We've been away for a few days and so I missed this thread.

I think we're into the realm of things that can be changed vs things that can't be.

I was brought up to control my emotions (as I suspect you were), to not let them intrude in argument - to recognise that rational thought and logic is superior to the display of emotion. And I still subscribe to that view.

However, in France (I can't speak for all Latin countries), emotion - as a 'tool' - appears to be highly prized. Emotion is emphasised with the ritual hand-waving and other body language that can be perceived as aggressive by the recipient. How many times have you heard during a voice-over on TV people say, that there was "beaucoup d'émotion". (Peugeot's tag line is "Motion & Emotion".. Can you imagine Mercedes, Ford or Chevy using that?)

Brits (and I'm sure Americans) were once widely thought to be polite and reserved - but that was only because the prevailing culture there did not accept public display of emotions.. (There was even a 3 letter acronym in the UK that was used when people did succumb to it - public display of affection - PDA!) It was not well-considered. The problem with that stance was that when the internal boiler pressure went critical, people went ballistic! Maybe there is something to be said for releasing emotional stress in a controlled fashion as and when it happens.

I've found that a characteristic of French people when arguing is to take up diametrically-opposed positions and argue the point to the death (sometimes I think they enjoy the process of arguing more than the end result), bringing high emotion into play. And arguments have to be won totally.. the idea of compromise (beloved of those of Anglo-Saxon origin) is anathema to them.

So what you're faced with with your co-worker is a fundamental culture clash - and I don't think it's one (in your particular circumstances) that is capable of amicable resolution in the way that you and I have been brought up to expect.

It could be that your co-worker's aggression stems from insecurity.. perhaps she has climbed higher than her level of competence? (see the Peter principle)

I suspect you've looked at alternative employment opportunities - that may be your only release. I wish you well.

Pip
 

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Brits (and I'm sure Americans) were once widely thought to be polite and reserved - ... The problem with that stance was that when the internal boiler pressure went critical, people went ballistic! Maybe there is something to be said for releasing emotional stress in a controlled fashion as and when it happens.
Dang, good point! America has lots of "pressure cooker explosions" all the time, you could say, so huh. Time to start flailing and pulling my hair and gnashing my teeth on the floors haha
 

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Has anyone watched the film "Le Rayon Vert"? I think that what Delphine goes through is the same thing. I've just been watching it and it is so similar in places.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Pip, I think you are right on. I have a repulsion to displays of emotion, especially in the workplace (I'm kinda a typical Capricorn that way).
I also have the anglo saxon habit of apologizing a lot, which I've seen actually pisses people off.

I suspect that often people try to rile me up, just to see some emotion. But when you aren't used to being emotional or aggressive and you try to, it comes out really "off". There is some skill involved in that. :)

She blew up Friday many times because the manager had a talk with her. Monday my desk was moved and I can breathe freely.

It seems waiting it out was the best strategy. Yesterday she wouldn't say a word to me, but kept coming over to pile an enormous amout of work on my desk. A half an hour before the end of the shift she plopped down the biggest file to process that I have ever seen in my life. Then she gave me a huge grin.

I smiled back and had the MF done on time. Good thing is I am sitting next to some people who have much more clout than her and they see how much I do, and how well I do it. I think the universe was on my side yesterday because throughout the day, there was major crises due to her mistakes... since she's also been bad mouthing me to all the new recruits (they're hiring a lot for summer replacements) and all that sort of destroys her credibility.

Man I sound vindictive. But it is rare that betting on endurance and patience works out. I think for once, it has! But I do think that ultimately this emotional emphasis in communications really is a problem for me when it comes to this culture. It will probably remain a challenge in the future.
 
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