At the expense of another

A few hours ago, I encountered a post from another blogger. The blogger narrated how she survived an anxiety attack in the middle of this festive and stressing season. Her parting statements included a call for everyone to be kind to anyone they encounter … be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

I don’t have any intention to disagree. Everyone deserves kindness.

Unfortunately, I also have an experience to relate. In as much as I’m more than willing to show kindness and render extended patience, I have been a casualty of people suffering (or claiming to suffer) from anxiety, depression and psychological related illnesses.

One of my core tasks at the workplace is to generate customer feedback reports. Every year, I compile complaints, suggestions, commendations and ratings made by customers on all feedback mechanisms. The report is later distributed to the respective department heads.

Unfortunately, there’s this department head who feels violated every time the report is released. This department head regularly calls my attention, especially when negative feedback is contained in the report. The worst encounter happened early this year. There was one comment that questioned her capacity to head a unit. She was an engineer by education and heads a department dealing with performing arts. In the latter part of the comment, the feedback insinuated the back story behind her appointment. Turns out, the customers believed that she illegally ousted the previous head.

Whatever story is behind this, it’s no longer my concern. My responsibility is limited on administering, compiling and generating customer feedback report. My task should have been simple. Unfortunately, some people like this department head, prefers to make everything complicated. If they receive a positive feedback, they rejoice, brag and celebrate. But when things become messy, like some negative feedback happens, they start to pass the blame on other people.

I’ve received information from colleagues that this department head is suffering from depression. Some mentioned she has a bipolar disorder. Some said, it’s mere anxiety. I heard another colleague saying it’s alcohol dependency.

While I can always offer additional patience and understanding to this department head,  I also have my  limits. It’s not like I’m the mentally healthier person, who will always tolerate her episodes and issues. I also have my own mental and emotional well being. I’m afraid I’m giving other people an impression of how I should be treated. That I’m always the person willing to accept the blame. I’ll end up as her pathetic scapegoat.

If such principle will be followed, where is the claim that the organization is promoting a culture of healthy well being? In a way, what the department head has been doing to me and my other colleagues is downright bullying. When you can’t accept your fault, pass it on another person. How distressing. While some people can easily express their “attitude” and use their psychological state as an excuse, especially those in authority, the subordinates are always left as silent casualties.

… because we wanted to understand and save a person suffering from a psychological illness, we end up harming the quiet, patient and much mature individuals