I’m having a real grossed out day. A friend was real rude to me yesterday. It was definitely a “well if I’m rude to you in this way what are you going to do about it?” moment. So gross.

I’ve got a major distaste for hierarchies. Double, triple, quadruple standards- what the boss can get away with, what the front of house can get away with, what the kitchen can get away with.

My old boss at the clinic was a real bully, and she told a friend of mine, who absolutely was key to making that clinic function day to day, that he was bad at his job. His partner said to me, “I think she might be Asperger’s” and I just started laughing. Most of this woman’s job is intensely social- she’s not in any way disabled in her ability to read social skills, she’s just a hierarchical asshole. She likes beating up on the people who she can get away with beating up on. It makes her feel powerful or something. No one calls her on it, everyone acts like it’s not happening, so she keeps doing it. That intensely hierarchical feedback filter is part of why being a patient at that clinic is such a terrible experience. I like when people try to diagnose people as being on the spectrum just because that person is a dick. I’m seeing people deny people’s intentional assholery more and more with that excuse.

It’s so interesting, how our place in the social hierarchies we move through protects us from troubling feedback. In a lot of ways as you move up a hierarchy you get more and more disconnected from reality and how your actions are affecting reality. It’s a real trick to figure out how to move up a hierarchy and not get totally lost in people’s fake reactions to you. Part of what a lot of people want out of moving up the hierarchy is those fake reactions- the upside to being the boss is you don’t have to deal with other people’s authentic reactions to you.

Any demand/request that other people not be authentic with you is very interesting. Power is so much about getting define other people’s reality. But how satisfying are those lies, actually? Don’t those protected bosses feel paranoid all the time? You get to be an asshole, but on some level you must resent all the lying.

One thing I hear A LOT from other comics is that the stage is the only place they can be honest. I feel that way too. So often I can’t be real one on one in my relationships but I can talk about those feelings onstage. I honestly think every comedian comes up in a family where they believe they have to carefully monitor the self they reveal to their parents. Either because sometimes the parents get scary, or the parents need the kid to light up their sort of tragic lives, and usually both of those. So many kids take on the burden of their parents’ unhappiness. You don’t decide you need to dedicate your entire life to making people laugh unless you are forced to rely on that life strategy super young.

One lady I know was talking to me about “managing up” recently. Basically how do you assist your boss in being effective and reasonable at their job? Thank goddess I have an exceptionally good boss at the moment. Really intentional with her feedback, thinks hard about processes at the restaurant, very clear with expectations, kind, the whole deal. I’m learning a lot from her about creating an organization. Sometimes I think the bad times in life are partly to make us very grateful and aware for when the good stuff happens. I think I had such terrible work experiences partly to set me up for studying how my boss right now operates.

Sometimes to encourage myself to speak up, since of course I learned very young to be careful with my reactions to powerful people, I rationalize I’m doing them a solid by giving them the feedback. What’s nice about this rationalization you don’t have to pressure yourself into giving someone honest feedback if they’re just going to punish you for it. Giving authentic feedback is a show of respect, so if I don’t respect you I’m not going to give it. You want a bunch of people lying to your face? Ok, sure, I’ll give you what you want and you can keep not understanding what you’re doing in this world.

We’re such a slimy species in this way. We are so insecure and mean. I hope by the time I have some power I can be as intentional about creating opportunities for people to be real with me as my boss is. It’s pretty exceptional she does that.

One thought on “Gross”

  1. “Giving authentic feedback is a show of respect, so if I don’t respect you I’m not going to give it.”

    I agree. Hate how people rationalise *not* giving that feedback, but just undermining/abandoning instead, as being somehow supportive or respectful.

    And conversely, like you say, if they respond horribly to well-intentioned advice, given diplomatically, they don’t thereafter have the right to complain when you don’t bother taking your feedback straight to them in a diplomatic package like before.


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