Manager in the middle July 19, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in career, engineering, family, research, work.
Tags: coworkers, marriage, Mike, supervisor
Way back when I was working on my MS, my husband and I got into a big argument about whether H or B was the “magnetic field”. (I’ve ranted before on terminology for various magnetic and electric quantities, so I won’t reproduce that here, but you can read a snippet on my old blog.) We attempted to solve this by going to our advisor and asking him which of us was right. Our advisor was astute enough to say he hadn’t heard of this issue before. In reality, he may not have, but he didn’t want to take sides.
I have wondered how people feel about interacting with both me and my husband at work. One person who has since left didn’t like my husband, and we both suspect that he didn’t like me as a “guilty by association”-type issue. Those type of issues are extremely rare, but I wonder what people think when one of us slips and calls the other, “Hon.” I think most of our coworkers don’t even think about it, but it still makes me uncomfortable. I know that the one time Mike slipped in front of clients, I wanted to melt into my chair.
More commonly, though, I have noticed that I will be far more confrontational and argumentative with Mike in front of our coworkers than they are willing to be with him. In one recent incident, he started going into a list of reasons why something wouldn’t work. We’d already discussed it at home, and I’d told him he was being overly cynical and putting obstacles in his path. He started going through the list again in meeting (that I was running), and I just shook my head and said I didn’t want to hear it. Of course, he ignored me and I rolled my eyes, sighed loudly, gave him an incredulous look, and said, “Okay, fine.”. I noticed a couple of coworkers exchanging grins with each other, and I wondered if it must be strange to see a married couple working this way. (I wonder how they communicate with their spouses, who aren’t engineers.)
Recently, we had an incident where we were in a meeting. We got into a discussion where I was disagreeing with him. After we got done, there was a pause, and our supervisor said, “Actually, I’m more inclined to agree with Cherish.” This elicited loud “uh-ohs” and “woahs” from several of our coworkers, and even a direct, “Are you sure you want to get in the middle of this?”
I find this interesting as I’m sure these comments wouldn’t happen if we weren’t married. I’m amused by these types of comments, but I wonder if it’s that we’re doing something to elicit them or if it didn’t matter how we behaved as it would still be in the back of people’s minds anyway.
I also wonder if they think we disagree all the time because we do it frequently at work. More than one coworker has been driven out of the room by boisterous white board drawing. It’s funny how we are much more argumentative with each other at work than we are at home.