Thursday, 17 March 2011

Don't dish it out if you can't take it...

So... I had a kind of appraisal meeting today, with my mentor. It mostly went well, she had a couple of comments on things I could improve, nothing major or unexpected. But...

She uses sarcasm a lot, which I struggled with initially, as it took me a while to figure out when she was joking. I had quite a few very embarrassed moments, as she pointed out my failings (this is my first placement). She does it in front of patients, putting down my skills in a jokey way, and sort of encouraging me to join in. I think it's a way for her to have a quick humourous bonding moment with some of the patients. I've educated myself on how and when she does it, so that I'm not taken by surprise, and have mostly just laughed, occasionally I have joined in a bit, mock-defending myself. That's all been fine. She has gained a reputation among former students as very hard work, and a bit of a b****. I imagine they didn't know how to take her sarcastic comments, and found them hurtful. I've tried very hard not to go down that road, and my focus has been on understanding her better. 

But, I made a jokey comment to her the other day in the office about her teaching style, in the spirit of the banter that she has encouraged, and although at the time, she took it as a joke, it was obvious today that she has taken it to heart, and spent quite a bit of time in my appraisal, defending herself from a joke that I never meant her to take seriously. She didn't actually say why she was explaining her learning style in depth, but it was fairly obvious. I didn't mention my original joke, as I didn't want to make things worse. 

Clearly she is quite sensitive, and this has played on her mind, and maybe the sarcasm is a defence mechanism for her. But has it not occurred to her that she is a healthcare professional with 20 years experience, and maybe all her little new students are less able to cope with her sarcasm than she with theirs? She is in a position of power over us after all. 

As an aspie, sarcasm is so difficult. I can join in with sarcastic banter a little, but I do get it wrong sometimes, and on occasion, I get too close to the bone, and this is obviously a case in point. I suppose the lesson is the same one I keep trying to internalise, SHUT UP! Not all the time, but don't do the banter thing. 


  1. I think, we collect coping mechanisms like tools in a large garage.. They are in boxes, and other compartments scattered around. Eventually they become lost, and we find them hard to find. As a result we become emotional, hurt, what have you.

    While your counselor may have 20 years of experience, she still compartmentalizes her tools, with some closer than others. She sees many things, but some things you see, she doesn't, and vice versa.

    I bet she would like to have all her tools up front, being able to see them all at all times.. but that would get confusing, as then the multitudes of mechanisms would conflict. The education and experience doesn't transcend humanity :)

  2. Thanks Ian, I really like your analogy, I have found that my coping mechanisms sometimes go astray, and I'm sure the same is true for her too, thanks for helping me understand that a bit better, that's my goal!