Back in the day, I'd usually take everything at face value. It saves time. I still believe that...but it has also become second nature to me to re-evaluate everything I hear for "deeper" intent or implication. Sometimes, I read between lines that are not even there, to begin with.
That's just one of the changes that being an HR professional has brought in me. I'm hoping it is particular only to the field, and that I will grow out of it when I move on, because I sure as hell do not like it.
I wouldn't call myself naive, or even optimally street-smart. I'm just someone with too many things on her bucket list. Ergo, there isn't ever enough time to delve into hidden meanings in what people say, or to make murtabak of my own intent. If you're someone I care about, and have chosen, for some reason, not to be direct, I'll back off and wait till you're comfortable talking. And you'll know where to find me when you are, because you're that important. But if we're simply getting business done in as cordial a manner as possible, don't you think we'll all save time if we say what we have to, and get going?
But as I was saying, taking things to mean what they sound like is a luxury you're denied in Human Resources. Whether it is an investigation, an interview or the usual 9-in-the-morning meeting, you're conditioned - without knowing it - into evaluating everything at three levels, at least, before responding to it. And the funniest thing is, all this processing happens in real time, in the blink of an eye, and you tailor your response to give it the suitable degree of ambiguity.
The other change HR has brought in me is pretend-patience. I wish I could say being an HR manager has made me a more patient human being, but that would be a lie. I'm still, essentially, as (im)patient as I was the first 20-odd years of my life. Professionalism demands that you exercise a fair degree of forbearance, however, and in Human Resources it is a cardinal rule. I'm happy to comply, because if I'm going to work in a professional set-up, it is only fair that I play by the rules. But this thinking aloud isn't about mandatory patience - it is about how I follow the mandate. And much as I tried to use this as an opportunity to do away with the short fuse, all I've succeeded in doing is not flying off the handle at the drop of a hat.
Lest this post sound like a cribfest about HR, let me bring in what may qualify as compensation. I wouldn't go so far as to call it the upside - because it isn't - but it could try for that label, and I wouldn't discourage it right away. Being in Human Resources introduces you to a whole variety of people - each of whom brings in a whole variety of quirks - you wouldn't have met ordinarily. A lot of it has to do with the fact that, as an HR manager, you meet anywhere between thirty to three thousand colleagues a day, and as many as 20 new faces in a standard day of recruitment interviews. Some of it also has to do with how people generally perceive the HR department, and how that perception affects behaviour that is already unique by virtue of being human.
Not complete, this post, so I'll come back later and write more. Till then, wish me luck. I have behavioural event interviews coming up, and I'm really not looking forward to them.
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