The meeting went ahead as planned on Thursday. I was nervous and tense, and it didn’t start well, as my line manager criricized me over a decision I had to make in the field on Wednesday. But, when I got upset, as she went right into the detail of it, the UCU rep calmed me down, and reviewed how the meeting was going, and pointed out that, actually, things were working in my favour. And the line manager did concede on all of the points that we raised.
Apart from one. I was told, totally out of the blue, that my face-to-face communication with the sessional RAs was perceived by “some of them” as patronizing, making them always feel like they were doing something wrong. I reeled. Broke down. To my mind, I have tried my utmost to be clear with the RAs about what needs to be done when, yes, but then to respect and value their work (and to make way for their other commitments). I can’t remember ever criticising it. But the line manager refused to tell me who had the problem, or what the specific issues were, and is not sure she’ll allow a meeting with me and them to sort things out. Which makes me feel rubbish about working with them.
UCU rep. calmed me down again, and the meeting continued. And line manager had to take a break, too. And UCU rep. said that the line manager had made her really cross, and had probably never been stood up to like that before. And we’ve agreed to be more gentle with each other. Part of me dreads the next few weeks. Whenever I’ve reported bullying before, it’s made the bullying worse. But part of me hopes that, with God’s help, this maybe the exception to that rule. Positive working relationships may follow.
I was asked to pray the Examen at the end of the day. I cried and cried. But I also realized that God was there with me in that meeting, through the words and comfort of the UCU rep. And that feels good. Now I pray that He’ll help me work with my line manager effectively without her.