I am trying so hard to keep my resolutions, but I had something happen at work that I am not so sure about. I was trying so hard to do the right thing, but I'm not sure if I succeeded.
I work with college students and with a group in particular. The student who is heading it up has a tremendous amount of baggage and has basically been controlling and angry and difficult her whole tenure. It finally came to a head when she didn't show to a meeting and I had all the other students in the group working on something. She came in an hour late and decided she knew what was going on and then stewed about it for three weeks before coming to the next meeting and going ballistic. I drew the fire because I am the advisor. I talked her down, but I didn't tell her what I thought about her accusations and outburst. One of the officers left and later told me she doesn't feel safe coming to the meetings. Another person heard it, in another office, told me she had heard it and said she thought I handled it like a real adult. She took the college student into her office and told her that the way she acted was unacceptable: cursing at me, questioning my integrity, honesty and motives. The student tried to explain what I had done and the other person stopped her saying it didn't matter what I had done. She admitted to being embarrassed.
Well, I finally told her my thoughts on the matter (about a week later, when we were both calm, although I never lost my temper) when things were calmer. I told her I thought she acted very unprofessionally and explained what she had seen. She just shrugged and said she was hurt by my actions and that may be valid, but I still think her response was over the top and unnecessary, so I didn't apologize. I was within my rights to do what I did, even if it hurt her. In a moment of weakness, I wanted to build up another officer and probably didn't do it the best way I could have, but still...
The other people who work with this college student who is 40 years old have come forward and asked me what they can do (including offering to talk to her) and also have mentioned that they are not going to give her any recommendations because of her behavior. In her defense, she has been abused, she wears a plate of teeth because her second husband knocked them out. She was also in a tragic accident two years ago, that she regularly brings up to some how justify her actions. I am not the only one to have to deal with her actions, but I am the one who has caught it the worst. Her temper tantrum was scorched earth time and she was so loud that she could be heard around the building. I am sure she is demeaning my reputation far and wide, but she will be gone the end of March and I am just riding it out.
I guess I am just trying to figure out if I should have spoken to her about her unprofessional behavior and that screaming and cursing are not the way to handle conflict. I also mentioned to her that the other students are afraid to do anything because of that anger. They are all just stepping back and waiting for her to tell them what to do. I am still trying to run interference, but I, too am stepping back.
I see there is a lot of pain there and that is what caused her to lash out....not just pain from my actions, but pain from all that she has been through. She obviously needs some help learning to express her emotions in a more healthy way, but at this point I think she is too much in victim mode to be able to see that. I don't know if I did more harm than good....sigh.