January 20th, 2005

I'll choose my friends, thanks.

Welcome to management or at least a new degree of leadership. As my introductory lesson yesterday, I was pulled aside by someone to talk about politics. Apparently, according to this person, I can expect negative reactions because of people I associate with. Many examples were given. At the time I failed to appreciate the beautiful use ofsynecdoche: certain people were not explicitly mentioned although people close enough to them were mentioned to make the point. I wonder if they thought mentioneding particularly close friends might anger me. If so, they missed the point. The person was careful to mention that they would not hold my associations against me; they realized it was not my fault. I choose to read it as an honest if inept introduction to organizational politics, although it would be very easy to read it as a thinly-disguised threat. Regardless, I think the warning is accurate in that there does seem to be many ways in which people are expected to take sides in issues and in which
who you associate with is presumed to be an indicator of what side you are on.

My reaction is complicated. I cannot help but be filled with pitty at adults acting this way in a professional organization. It's so childish. So long as I can treat others professionally, focusing on technical issues and expect to be treated the same, I will ignore these politics. However it is completely unacceptable if someone tries to make who I associate with a real issue. They will fail.