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It’s been a long time since it’s happened but I’m in trouble at work. First, I haven’t had vacation days in a year, and it’s been a stressful year. I was at a meeting where one of the higher-ups was, in my view, haranguing me to where it felt like It was never going to end, so I said I thought we should stop the discussion. But no, it deteriorated another 20 minutes until I said I had enough and we needed to end, now.  Right then the manager returned and heard only that. So later I was told I was unprofessional etc, the crap I’ve heard at times in other jobs when I’ve lost my temper. I said I was defending myself from haranguing and bullying. Apparently those are fighting words. So next day I had to listen to how I can improve my communication skills, be less sharp, and do better. Then I got an email spelling out the same message. 
 

So I will schedule some time off when I can. But I’m very suspicious of the written “summary “ of the encounters. I’m considering a written response, with some defense. Or is that a bad idea?  My guess is she is covering their bases in case I decide to report the haranguing to someone, which was not my intent. I will need to keep my mouth shut at work which may be easier when I work from home, like I mostly have, but the argument happened in a video meeting. So frustrating to me. Not sure what I should do but I feel I should document something somehow for some purpose. I don’t trust management. 

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As someone who recently survived a 60 day probation at work, I recommend keeping your own private documentation of what's been happening with dates, names, and what was discussed. Be sure not to do it on a company computer or phone, since anything you write on their equipment belongs to them. You're smart not to trust management. The documentation really has two purposes - one is to be an escape valve for your feelings about what's going on in the moment, and the second is so you have some history in case you need to argue your case against HR, or ultimately need to see an employment lawyer.

I definitely recommend against a response to any written summary, even if you're 100% in the right. Unless you're a union member, at the end of the day your employment arrangement is "employment at will". That means you can be let go for any reason, or for no reason, as long as it's not blatantly discriminatory. If you're being harangued, probably the best thing to do is to say, "Excuse me for a minute" and don't engage or give a reason why, just physically leave the room or the zoom call, go to the restroom, and do some deep breathing exercises to comfort yourself. You may have some short-term gain by fighting back or arguing the point, but if you want/need to keep the job, it's best to keep it to yourself. Perception is reality, and if your management perceives you as defensive or argumentative, it's going to make your life a lot harder. 

I was on probation because of my poor performance during a bad depressive episode. I tried to continue to work, which was a mistake, and I ended up taking company-sponsored disability leave for the depression. When I got back from leave, I had to go through the probation, which included weekly meetings with HR and my boss to track my performance over the previous week. The first meeting was the worst because that's where all the notes were presented that said, "On this day, you didn't do this, on that day your information was incorrect, etc., etc." I really wanted to give my side of it, but I just nodded and said yes, because I'm near retirement and I really can't afford to lose this job. It's all come okay in the end, I've held onto my job because my boss felt he was able to inflict some punishment for my earlier performance, and that was enough to satisfy him. If I had argued with him during the probation period I would have been cut loose at the end of it. 

I am also in a specialized technical field so even during a good job market, it's tough to find a new position, and now that I'm older it's just gotten tougher. Your best bet may be to find a new job, and then experience the pleasure of turning in notice on the one you're in right now.  

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That’s all great advice. I guess I will hold off on a written reply, I forgot I an no longer union and definitely working in an “at will” situation. I’m in theory near retirement too, although I have student debt that will take a couple years, minimum, to pay off. And I am now in a specialized field too, although in theory I could work in related fields—except my current employer would be the main employer for anything I could do. Definitely old enough for discrimination. So guess I need to make this work. I think I will keep some personal documents. Definitely won’t be on my work computer I can assure you. That’s a mistake I know not to make. Definitely anything on work computer or email is owned by them. I do use my personal phone for some work since I’ve been remote but I won’t store anything on it. 
 

I don’t trust management at all. I feel they are keeping documentation in case they decide to fire me. Yes, I am good at my job but when I’m at wits end, feel threatened, or even tilting toward manic, I will speak my mind. Not a good idea apparently.  I will have to keep quiet when I hear total crap now but guess if I need this job that’s the price I will pay. At least it pays well and has benefits. And I can do it despite being older. It does suck to feel like I’m being jerked around but it could be worse. 

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SugarSugar - I also would suggest holding off on anything written in reply. It's less likely, in my guess, that the written summary encounters are to cover them in case you do something, and more likely that they are created to form the backbone of a cause of termination should they ever get to the point that they're convinced you have to go. Try to figure out in a very practical, nuts-and-bolts sense, how long you have to hold out until you're secure in your retirement, and determine what it will take to get you there in terms of both lifestyle and mental fortitude. Hang in there.

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My mantra is, "It all pays the same." I really like my job, but that thought gets me through the inevitable bad patches that occur in every job.

I just had to complete my part of my mid-year evaluation which had things on it like, "Describe any process improvements you have developed that streamline your work and contribute to the overall strategic vision of the company." Sure, fine, my strategic vision is to pay the mortgage and get a load of laundry done, but whatever...

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Part of my ordeal is needing to come up with a plan to improve my communication skills. Since I was told “people” had complained, I thought it might be a particular person I’d been impatient with, so I met with him to work out our working collaboration and smooth things out. He was very puzzled by some of it but we had a good meeting. However I thought maybe there actually was no person who complained. I’m feeling very angry and resentful overall but I’m trying to get that under control because it’s not helping me. I’m going to take a week off basically to cool down. 
 

So, I think I was right about the original point but having an angry outbreak about it was admittedly unwise. Now I am paying the price for that outburst. It sucks but not much I can really do. I feel like I’ve been served with a gag order. I hope a week off can help me chill. 

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I'm glad you're taking a week off, I'm sure it will help. Being at work by definition means being under a gag order. I look at it as a trade-off for money, and if I feel it's getting too bad, I'll go job hunting. But now that I'm 61, that's not really a viable plan. I'm very lucky to be in a job I like with people I (mostly) like, but as long as I've been in the work force, I can guarantee you that it's not always been that way. 

I don't know what your schedule is like, but if it's at all possible, I recommend getting your communication plan and whatever other B.S. you have to go through done before you take your time off. If there isn't time to do the whole detailed plan, maybe you can at least do an outline. The goal is to get rid of anything you could potentially stew over during your break. I've ruined too many weekends by having some work I was going to complete on Friday evening, not getting it done, and letting it hang over my head all weekend. 

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Ok my week off has officially started and I’m having a hard time letting go for a week. Obviously they can do without me but I feel I have work to do, also feel they’ll decide they can do fine without me. If it hadn’t been for manic spending I’d be closer to having my student loans done, so I kick myself. It was worth going to school to get a different job but things aren’t staying on track. Actually if it hadn’t been for hypomanic speaking out when I should have kept quiet (and should never speak in anger to management, I know that) I would not be here. I used to have terrible outbursts when I was younger, but think those days are past. I realize that at my age (mid 60s) I can’t guarantee I could get another job. Also afraid I may be headed toward depression because I am tending toward a lot of negativity. Not good. Hoping things even out. 

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I'm glad you're getting your time off, and I wish had some good advice on how to stop worrying about work while you're off, but I don't. My experience with taking leave, even a one month leave for surgery, is that nothing I was working on got completed while I was off, so there wasn't an issue with determining they didn't need me. I suspect the same may happen to you, and I hope it does, although it's a pain and difficult to deal with the temporarily increased workload when you get back.

I hate it that your life is so stressful right now.  

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Tomorrow I return to work, but I’ve already gotten an invite to a “discussion “ (I am mostly remote so this will be video).  The crap begins. I’m determined to stay calm and as quiet as I can. I meant to redo my resume over my break but didn’t. I still intend to. Trouble is, I’m required to “participate “ in discussions, but can’t be perceived as sounding or looking wrong. If I could just be quiet it’d be easier. I will do my best. It’s hard for me to hide total lack of respect  but I’ll need to. I know the manager has depression issues (she told us) and is off her meds, and I’m wondering how that might play in, potentially. 
 

I’m hoping my time off has mellowed the tone but I’ll find out tomorrow. Not looking forward to this. 

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Wishing the best for you!  Work is complicated for most of us, but it sounds like you are very self-aware, so that is a plus in your favor for handling the situation appropriately.

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I also wish you the best of luck in your "discussion". For the start of my probation, I got an invite to a meeting with my boss and HR a few days beforehand, but with no title and no description of the what the meeting was going to be about. I knew it wasn't going to be good, but I had no idea what was going to happen next, and the waiting was agonizing. I somewhat understand what you're dealing with, and know how stressful it is. 

Deep breathing is the only thing I've ever found that really helps me settle down, I do it before a meeting I know will be bad, and do it (subtly) during a bad meeting so I don't blow up.

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Thinking good thoughts for you also @sugarsugar - I've been there and it's so stressful. Especially when you are dealing with MI (undisclosed in my case) and the cards are all stacked against you. We never get a break. Like Catnapper said, breathe, and pause before you speak, try not to become defensive. Act extra compliant & eager to please if you have to (to get them off your back a bit)

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So the “discussion’ was about something else, actually about the topic that triggered my original outburst (most unwise).  But I stayed calm and didn’t take the bait. They were acting unusually nice to me which made me suspicious. But now we’re in s two day training so nothing more can happen until that passes, then we’ll see. I don’t trust this niceness after what’s happened. I’m keeping my guard up. 

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Glad it wasn't as bad as you expected, I hope the rest of the week is okay for you, too.

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