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Friday, November 07, 2008

There are no Employment Reviews when you're a REAL Writer

After six months at my new job, I find myself under a performance review time, and I'm worried. Why shouldn't I be? I haven't quit a job since I graduated high school, and I've had quite a few since then. Plus we recently had layoffs (3% of the company) in response to the economic crisis. And my peer evaluations were less than stellar. Most of my negatives came from my interpersonal communication or lack thereof.

Welcome to the problem that has persisted me all my life. And you know what, I'm sick of being told to change it. It's just who I am. Get used to it. I am sick and tired of being told I have this problem. It's not a problem. It's me. You simply interpret it as standoffishness because you're used to people gabbing about nothing. I don't need to make those connections. You know why I don't talk? Because it's exhausting. It taxes me mentally. It's the equivalent of going for a jog, every time I have to get up and talk to someone I don't know, or try to make a friend, or do anything social. I tortured myself all throughout high school and college because I believed that I had to get over this, that I had to approach strange people and think of something to say. It never got any better. And you know what, I'm done with that. I'm 27 years old, I'm not getting any better.

You know what, I'm comfortable with who I am. I've accepted that I'm not a talker. There's nothing wrong with that, and I'm sick of being told that there is. "Oh, why doesn't he talk?" "He should talk more." "Why doesn't he ever say anything?" I have nothing to say. The end. I don't need to get people to pay attention to me by blathering. I am an introvert - I need time to process what's being said before I can process a response, less I say something inconsiderate. We're a small minority, but we are who we are. And that won't change. I'm tired of being sorry for who I am.

This is why I say to peer evaluations, really, what's the point anymore? For one thing, there's no peer evaluation that can maintain professionality. They're all personal. They're always personal. Everything is personal. It's time people realized that. It's like trying to separate church and state, and then have the word God plastered over every government document. The two co-exist, and that co-existence must be acknowledged. Do I expect companies to do much about it? No, they're not into match-making. But if you want to know how your employees are doing, then why don't you spend time with them. The people conducting the review haven't spent an entire business day with me in the entire six months.

What does this have to do with writing? (gotta keep this a writing blog, you know) It has to do with criticism. You can't criticize the person, you have to criticize the work. Peer evaluations don't do that. Imagine if you had to write a peer evaluation for Hemingway or Stephen King during his drug addict days. I imagine they'd get low marks. The work of writing is like programming - they are both founded on individual achievement. The difference is you're writing a story for someone else, and you need to make sure the story goes right.

I'm most worried about whether or not I was too negative in my review. I had two options - "everything is fine, move along", or completely unload on them all the negatives. The safe tactic might have been option number 1, due to the layoffs and economic crisis. It might have been smarter to keep my head down and not make waves. But, there seem to be a lot of problems both in regard to my negative comments, and areas needing significant improvement that I just couldn't keep my mouth shut for. I wasn't bitchy, I used the jargon and double-speak to make it seem like it was everybody's problem, not just mine. I guess I've just always got to bite the hand that feeds. I guess that's a problem that's persisted me all my life too.

Maybe I'm feeling over-criticized lately because of this and the Vampire Family Story critique. I feel like everyone's on my case to "get it done". There's always going to be standards that I'm never going to measure up to. I'm not going to be the perfect employee. I'm not going to reach for what your goal for me is. I have my own goals, and they don't include improving my interpersonal skills.
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