Getting Along with Co-Workers: Michael Part Thirty
Perhaps the single biggest challenge for someone returning to work after a brain injury is the challenge of getting along with co-workers. Work is increasingly so not a place where an employee does his job in isolation. As employment environments have become less disciplined, less structured, more and more of surviving in the workplace is how other employees interact with you.
Another criterion is to be able to maintain a consistent mood at work without either being distracted by your coworkers or having your moods distract them. Did you have trouble getting along with co-workers?
They would distract me more than my moods, because I couldn’t handle office gossip. I couldn’t handle people always coming to me with advice or asking for advice or telling me how much they dislike this other worker and put me in the middle, that would really aggravate me.
Is that because you have so much that you can only focus on at one time and worrying about the personalities and politics of other people is more than you can handle? Is this why you had a problem getting along with co-workers?
Yes. Where I can focus on the work great, but when the human conditions started focusing in to the work, I could not do that.
Did that create sort of an artificial gap, boundary between you and your co-workers because you weren’t as good at being social? Is this part of the problem with getting along with co-workers?
It became a hindrance.
Can you explain how this impacted getting along with co-workers?
My job when I was in Louisville, working at Fazoli’s, for example. Most of the time I had routine to where I did not work the cash register and I didn’t make the food, so don’t worry. But like when I was out on the floor if there was a lot of people there I kept to my business. I wouldn’t really talk to the other employees. I would, you know, have friendly conversations here and there with the customers. But when it was, when no one was there and it was just me and a couple of other employees on the floor, I was drawn into their office politics.
Another area that is necessary for any employee to have some ability is to make judgments, make simple work related decisions, avoid hazards and take appropriate precautions. Did you have problems with that?
The only one that I have a hard time with accommodations was Big Lots. They didn’t, they had a hard time accommodating me, like letting me sit, wanting me to, having my cane there if I needed it. And that probably pushed me to the issue of the quitting there.
When was that?
That was right before I moved back up here. I think that was in 2002.
And you moved back to Wisconsin in 2003? And you have been in Wisconsin for the last nine years?