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[personal profile] gansje

Awake again, too agitated to sleep, I suppose. I've been utterly slammed with my own work, and today found out that a contractor (we hire contract linguists, amazingly enough) spent nearly all her time going to parties, visiting friends and family, and training for a half-marathon instead of working on the project I hired her to work on. Plus she misinterpreted very, very basic directions and the analysis plan, and turned her head-scratchingly odd answers to the client's rather straightforward questions extremely late. This means that over the next two days I get to read 65 doctor-patient conversations, twist her existing slides into something meaningful, and create a host of new slides that actually answer the client's questions.

I'm so burned out and, honestly, mildly depressed. I've been working 60-70 hours a week for a month and for much of the last 3 months as well. I'm trying so hard to spend time with L and feel connected, but it's very difficult to feel connected to anything or anyone right now. I feel incredibly guilty for having so much work and neglecting him. Add to that ambient worry about Jo and how we're going to manage her medication around Shasta's refusal to give Jo any of her current meds, and Shasta's tendency to lose Jo's meds. And then on top of that, a sudden resurgence of my insomnia. It's not good.

At least I've not been entirely consumed by work. L and I have had some wonderful time together, and we've spent a lot of time talking, which makes things feel better. Yesterday was mild enough that we took the dog on a nice, long walk through the neighborhood, along a walking trail and back. We got our Chinese food for Jewish Christmas, and today we visited some historic homes in Fairmount Park, which we both enjoyed very much. Last night, we went bowling for an hour, and had some fun (despite my being a dreadful bowler -- L tried patiently to help me with my game, but my ball was just too heavy for me, and I proved to be hopeless).

But the best times have been those we've spent talking. I love hearing about what he's thinking, what's happening for him at work, and trying to think conundrums through with him. He loves his consulting work so much, and sharing it with him today over lunch made me very happy.

He also discussed and made some suggestions about my own work, which was unexpected (it's usually so specialized it's hard for anyone to help with it) and extremely helpful.

So as rotten as the work has been, there's been L, and that, at least, makes everything a good deal better.

Date: 2013-12-30 09:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What do you do about these crappy contractors? Do you tell them that they suck and why they suck, or simply fail to hire them again? I'm sorry that this extra work got dumped into your lap. Not possible to tell the contractor that she has 24 hours to fix her mistakes if she wants her money?


Date: 2013-12-30 10:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We usually just don't hire them again. Since they're contractors, no one really wants to communicate to them how they screwed up. But trust me, this time, I communicated with her.

I am asking her to fix some of her slides, but the main problem is that she didn't bother to read the conversations or the analysis plan until basically the last possible moment, and spent all of her working time -- after having agreed to the schedule! -- going to her cousin's house, going to parties, and running 8 miles a day. Thus, if I ask her to fix them she'll not be able to provide any more insight than she already has. She also says that she misunderstood some things that I thought I'd communicated reasonably well:

Me: Can you please have the slides to me on Saturday night?
Her: Actually, I didn't get as far as I wanted. Could I give them to you Sunday morning?
Me: Sure. Sunday is fine.

She took this to mean "anytime you please on Sunday," and delivered the slides to me 6 hours late, and only upon my directly asking at noon, "Where are the slides?" She had spent Sunday morning training for a half-marathon and driving to her sister's house, you see. Because I said Sunday was fine.

And then she misunderstood one of the client's questions: "We know there are significant problems with the conversation. What are the key ways that communication breaks down?"

Despite my having explained what that meant previously when we reviewed the client's questions, and despite the anaphoric reference of the latter sentence to the former, she decided it meant, "what are the constituent elements of the conversation?" and gave me a list of conversation topics. Which is valid, I guess, if you're a linguist, but the client had already asked, "what topics are covered in the conversation?" so that should have tipped her off that maybe she needed to clarify.

I know I'm not the world's clearest communicator, but those are just weird interpretations, right?

*bangs head on wall*
Edited Date: 2013-12-30 10:50 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-12-31 04:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It sounds like she wasn't paying attention and/or trying very hard. How frustrating. The whole point of hiring a contractor is that you have too much work--then to have to fix what you hired them to take off your plate--argh!

Date: 2013-12-31 09:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I managed to beat my own record at least...

- 65 doctor-patient conversations read and analysed
- 45 content and summary slides containing findings (I am the frigging powerpoint queen now, gotta say)
- Recommendations and next steps slides almost done...

All done in 2.5 days.

all on top of another, much more challenging report that took a week.

Edited Date: 2013-12-31 09:59 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-01-01 12:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
From communicating with enough people like that, I've learned to be horribly specific, to the point of appearing anal, just because I know that people can and do misinterpret these kinds of things. I repeat things back to people all the time, even though I fear it comes off as obnoxious.

So, while I don't think there's anything wrong with the way you communicated, I would have gone the extra mile and said something like, "Yes, Sunday morning is fine. Please have it in my inbox by 8 a.m. Eastern time" (or something like that). Just because I've had too many experiences with people who will glom onto any ambiguity and exploit it (consciously or not). Ugh!


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