Topic: On trying to maintain ones equilibrium (Page 1 of 1) Pages that link to <a href="" title="Pages that link to Topic: On trying to maintain ones equilibrium (Page 1 of 1)" rel="nofollow" >Topic: On trying to maintain ones equilibrium <span class="small">(Page 1 of 1)</span>\

Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Pool Of Life
Insane since: Nov 2003

IP logged posted posted 01-29-2009 12:38 Edit Quote

I recently had need to visit an employment and recruitment agency and it was not a good experience.
Without going through too much detail, I needed to complete a lot of forms and a few interviews to access funds and help finding more work. I have been a gardener for quite a while now.

So there I am sitting in this small open plan office when my name is called out from across the room, that is, my Christian name, Gerard.
Now I may well be an "old Fogey" but I object to some stranger calling me by my first name. I am not very good at masking my feelings, or perhaps I'm not very good at controlling the red mists that descend occasionally. Either way I think the interviewer picked up on my irritation because one of the next questions she asked me in my "Expectations Management" interview was along the lines of. "I'd like you to answer this next question truthfully if you can. Do you think your attitude may be preventing you from securing some employment?"

I have to confess to you, my fellow Asylumites, that I lost it slightly at this juncture. "Who are you to be discussing my attitude, my personal details, in an open plan office where anyone can hear our discussion?" Closely followed by "I realise that you are trying to get me to answer questions that fit in with your pre-prepared questionnaire and tick box mentality"
When I told the interviewer that I did not like being addressed by my first name in such a formal surrounding and further, I thought that it was bad practice, I was told by herself, taht I was the only person ever in her experience to complain. Which I think in their eyes further marks me out as having a "bad attitude"

I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts on this. I feel that especially in a formal setting like this one should be addressed as Mr Mrs Miss or Ms.

Tyberius Prime
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist with Finglongers

From: Germany
Insane since: Sep 2001

IP logged posted posted 01-29-2009 16:08 Edit Quote

Indeed. Loss of politeness is a certain sign that your civilisation is going down.

In german, this is even more pronounced with having a formal and an informal you -
using the wrong one by a bureaucratic drone would have received the same behaviour from me,
as being called by your first name did from you.

But seriously, these 'job centers' have been deterioating so much these last few yers, it's unbelievable
(but that's a topic for another discussion, I guess).

Maniac (V) Inmate

Insane since: May 2001

IP logged posted posted 01-29-2009 16:54 Edit Quote

Personally I don't care about being called by my first name. However, I do see your point. I have been on interviews where they don't even address you. They just come out and say "come on in".

I think that the person should have worded themselves a bit better. Don't assume that it is my attitude that might be keeping me from a job. Actually, don't assume anything about me. You don't know me.

I don't think you were in the wrong per se, but that depends on how bad you need a position somewhere I guess. Know what I mean. Going into a situation like that is not good. I've been in the unemployment line before and had to go file for unemployment help. This was in no way a good situation. I was already on the outs because I had been laid off from my job, then I had to go stand in line to "beg for money". Shot down my self esteem greatly. Then came the!

What you went to is a bit more relaxed around here in the states. But they are going out just like TP said. They mostly do temp work and such but still, no one is really hiring so they are hurting greatly.

I really wouldn't let it get to you too much. I am sure there are other agencies around. And none of these people talk with one another. You might have a better experience with a different agency.



Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Pool Of Life
Insane since: Nov 2003

IP logged posted posted 01-29-2009 17:52 Edit Quote

I think sometimes I tend to overstate things. While I was irritated at the time, the annoyance did not stay with me for long. Thanks for the comments I find it very helpful to hear how others would feel about the situation.

I have come to understand that I do things in an "old school" manner. For instance I shake hands when making a deal or settling a payment, usually a large payment. Some people are taken aback by this, like the guy in the computer shop when I bought a monitor a while back. I held out my hand ready to shake and he looked mystified staring at my hand.

Lunatic (VI) Mad Scientist

From: The Happy Hunting Grounds...
Insane since: Mar 2001

IP logged posted posted 01-30-2009 01:14 Edit Quote

The first thing to do in such a situation, is to keep firmly in mind that it is never personal - that is, the person was not personally intending to insult you. After all, the person does not know you. So how could it be personal?

The next thing to do is to realize that you control your reaction. This is paramount to seizing control of your emotions and the situation.

In the situation you have provided, you injected the coloration that led to your emotional condition (your reaction) - that, in turn, colored the responses further (from both of you). Any other person will pick up this emotional condition near you, that is aware of your presence - this occurs naturally and most of the time, unconciously (non-verbal feedback). So your interviewer may not have even been aware of how they were being influenced by your condition, but it still influenced the reactions to your emotional state.

Non-verbal clues such as the look on your face (mostly mouth and eyes/brows), the position and set of your body, and if appropriate, the space that you choose to maintain between you and the other person.

To that comes such verbal clues as tone of voice and word choice, as well as the speed at which they are spoken.

This often results in a downward spiraling series of action-reaction responses. As first impressions are the most important when it comes to "cementing" how one feels and acts/reacts to another, it is very important to be aware of how one can influence such to ones advantage, and to avoid getting into a negative reaction chain.

If you are ever in such a position again, first take a deep breath. I know, that sounds cheesy, doesn't it? But it does a simple thing - it relaxes the body, and it buys you something very valuable when you are emotionally impaired - time. Time to think clearly. Then if you feel that you are still offended in some fashion, then politely draw attention to this, and attempt to get the other person to be aware that their approach is offensive, without actually being offensive about it.

Most people, especially in a formal environment (like a workplace) will try to accommodate polite requests, if it is not too much trouble or unreasonable.

So a reaction to the first situation, where your first name was called out, would be along "Would it be alright with you if we stuck to last names, please Mr./Mrs.____ ?" Present this request with an easy smile, perhaps even with an extended hand (gesture of non-verbal content, requires that one be well trained to realize that one is being manipulated on several levels at once). The extended hand indicates cordialness, politeness, and friendliness, reinforced with your pleasant facial greeting (smile), plus the pleasantly worded request. It will take someone very well trained to avoid accepting your request as reasonable in this case (or they are already emotionally charged - see below).

If you win this first battle, the rest becomes even easier for you, as you first are in a winning position now (you have requested something and received it, which tends to make one happy, or at least happier) and you have demonstrated to yourself that you can take control of the situation, should it be necessary. This gives you a much more confident position to handle from. These things will be reflected in your body language, and your non-verbal clues will influence your interviewer (unless they are extremely well trained in such, which most are not). As long as you continue to use such methods in such situations, things should go relatively well, all things considered - certainly much better than the opposite.

Notice that the main thing to do is to maintain control over your own reaction (emotional state) and to try to change the environment to one more positive for yourself, to positively reinforce your own emotional state in order to manipulate the emotional state of others positively and to your advantage. This is the secret to such situations, IMHO and experience.

Try to keep in mind that such encounters are rarely personal in nature (how could it be personal, the other person does not know you personally and probably has never met you before, nor you them). The only thing that could happen that is almost impossible to influence one way or another is that you trigger an emotional response in the other based on their hardwired muster that comes from relationships with Father/Mother or siblings. Such situations either go extremely well (positive muster -> instant like) or extremely badly (negative muster -> dislike/hatred). Normally one can recognize the latter due to the almost palpable wall of hostility coming from the other (based on no realistic reason, one can normally logically induce this). Note that such can also be based on a previous bad experience that the other person has just had (argument with superior, etc), but still, that person is now emotionally charged, and it will be very difficult to change that.

In such a case of having to deal with a person that is negatively emotionally charged, even a seasoned, well-trained person in how to influence people with verbal and non-verbal techniques will have a challenge on their hands. This is because one will have to first de-escalate the other person first, to get them into a mental state where they are able to process information again (not emotionally charged, which blocks the ability to reason, and to accept incoming information). Normally one will try to initiate verbal contact, and get the other to try to think - for to think, one has to put aside the emotionally charged state to do so.

In your case, for example, a question can start this process "I am not sure about this question [insert the question here] - what do you think that it means?" and present this question with a geniune plea for help, complete with facial mimic and body language. You may need to repeat such attempts in order to establish rapport. Questions like "I have not done something like this for a long time, and things were much different back then, so could you please explain things to me?" is a nice way of establishing rapport, for example. In this instance, you are signaling non-resistance and are asking for help from the other - you are relinqueshing control to the other, empowering them. This will give you something very valuable - first time to analyse, and second you do not provide a target for the emotions to discharge on.

Once you get the person de-escalated, then you can get them where you want them pretty easily.

WebShaman | The keenest sorrow (and greatest truth) is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.
- Sophocles

Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: London
Insane since: Jun 2003

IP logged posted posted 01-30-2009 02:11 Edit Quote

Is it possible that he thought Gerard was your sir name, Liverpool after all does have a famous Steven Gerrard.

Just saying...

Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Under the Bridge
Insane since: Nov 2002

IP logged posted posted 01-30-2009 12:45 Edit Quote

^ now thats personal...Gerrad...ooppps

~Sig coming soon~

Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Pool Of Life
Insane since: Nov 2003

IP logged posted posted 01-30-2009 13:22 Edit Quote

First of all I want to thank you WebShaman for taking the time and effort in crafting such a comprehensive response to my post. I do appreciate it and have read, re-read and inwardly digested the good advice you have offered.

I do not think I have been taking this personally, as in, all the comments and the way the were delivered were specifically directed exclusively at me. Except to say that this was a formal meeting, pre-arranged between myself and the agency and the agency has, upon request, most of my personal and professional details. The whole reason for the meeting on their part is two-fold. To “enable” me access to more opportunities for employment in my chosen field and, to assess if I am being truthful in the statements I have made with regard to my personal details and financial standing. I am being assessed from the moment I walked into the room.

I totally agree with your views on controlling ones emotions and reactions and how important they are. I added my “confession” in the initial post to show this and included an eek slimey to further illustrate the point. I did realise at the time that this was not the best way for me to conduct myself.. Still, I do take your comments seriously, you are completely correct about taking a deep breath and taking a moment. Your explanation on how to “de-escalate” the situation I found very useful I shall integrate that into my modus operandi in future.

My main reason for writing this post still stands though and I'd be interested if you gave your opinion on how to address people in such a situation, by their first name or with the formal, Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms?

Blaise, nah, she knew it was my first name not my surname but... It is very noticeable with the popularity of Captain Fantastic himself Steven Gerrard how most people pronounce and spell my name that way. There was of course Gerard Houllier too the last manager. So Gerard in one way or another is a lot more popular that it was when I was knee high to a grasshopper.

I'm wondering you see, what are the conventions in different parts of the world regarding this matter. I still maintain that, unless previously agreed upon, one should always address a person formally. It is polite and makes good business sense too.

Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Denver, CO, USA
Insane since: Aug 2000

IP logged posted posted 01-30-2009 16:11 Edit Quote

Ah, how I long for the simpler days when men wore felt hats. Politeness was the norm. Even bar fights were civilized.

But this is where we have come in our meanderings through space and time. I gave away an old couch of mine yesterday. The three kids (I say kids, they must've been mid-20s) kept addressing me as "Mister," rather than "Steve" which is what I told them my name was.

And it rang awkwardly in my ears, honestly. Signs of the changing times.


Lunatic (VI) Mad Scientist

From: The Happy Hunting Grounds...
Insane since: Mar 2001

IP logged posted posted 01-30-2009 17:21 Edit Quote


Well, I am an old fogey, so I prefer to use last names (with Mr/Mrs and I will use Sir/Ma'am when uncertain) when I am in a situation that I am not comfortable with using first names OR if I am attempting to keep something on a certain basis or level.

I will, however, immediately switch to using first names, if the other signals (through use of first name, for example) this (unless I am using the more formal address to accomplish something).

For example :

"Good morning, Mr/Mrs. X, my name is Web Shaman. Nice to meet you." <- here I err on the side of caution.

"Nice to meet you as well, Web. Please, take a seat." <- the other signals wanting to continue on a first name basis.

At that point, I would switch to using first names, since the other has signaled that they wish to by using the first name. If I was not certain what the other's first name was, I would ask "Excuse me, but I didn't catch your first name?"

If I was "dressing down" a subordinate, however, I would continue to use the last name here to establish the tone of the situation.

"Mr. Anderson, I would like to go through the last 6 months of your employment with this company together." <- here I set a formal tone, one that is distanced. If I was in the subordinate's shoes, this would be an immediate and obvious clue, and I would be on my guard here.

"Sure Web! How do things look?" <- attempt to maintain a friendly, loose level. In this example, the wrong tact to take.

"Mr. Anderson, I do not think that you are taking this as seriously as you should. Perhaps you are not aware of your performance in the last 6 months. In any event, they are not up to standards." <- attempt rebuffed, and the main topic of the meeting has been reinforced.

In a totally different situation, I might try to establish friendly and informal rapport with a first name greeting, for example :

"Hey, Ted! How was the vacation?"

"Oh, it was fine Web! We had a blast!"

"Great to hear, Ted!"

Ok, so those are more like "See Jane run" examples, but you get the point Perhaps the lady in question was attempting this (although from what you are saying, she probably doesn't have the slightest inkling of how to do such a thing consciously, so it was probably an inconscious action on her part).

WebShaman | The keenest sorrow (and greatest truth) is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.
- Sophocles

(Edited by WebShaman on 01-30-2009 17:27)

Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Land of one Headlight on.
Insane since: May 2001

IP logged posted posted 01-30-2009 18:09 Edit Quote

Ahhh.... What's in a name? A Tao by any other name would still.....

Salutations are interesting. I've gone from Master to Mr. to Sir and Hun (Honey) More asshole(s) than a pride parade (no offence twItch^)...and the one I won't hear but others can't wait for is.... dearly departed.

Don't sweat it... it's all too short.

“Privatize the Profits - Socialize the Losses.” Randi Rhodes

Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Madison, Indiana
Insane since: Aug 2000

IP logged posted posted 01-30-2009 22:41 Edit Quote

I tend to agree you on First Name/Title Last Name usage. Perhaps it's because we were both in the military and the kinds of rules you're stating are engendered by that culture.

I can empathize with Tao's reaction to having his first name shouted out in a public place where everyone is a bit on edge over their job (or other) situation. It's like some of your privacy was given away to anyone who cared to listen. I wonder if there might not be other situations, for example, when waiting to be seated at a restaurant, where it might have been less offensive to have your first name used.

The means of address that bothers me the most is when someone uses only my last name. This again is from having served in the military and also from having grown up in the 60s when the whole world was on a first name basis.


-- not necessarily stoned... just beautiful.

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