I feel really conflicted about this one. A while ago an officer on my wing came up to me and, out of nowhere, said “That’s an interesting blog you’ve got!” I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right at first but when he repeated himself I was really taken aback and could only think to say “Oh, right, yeah. Um, thanks.” He said a colleague had stumbled across it and asked him if he’d seen it so he took a look. But then he said something that threw me even more.
He said: “You’re actually more clever than you sometimes appear, aren’t you?”
“Am I?” I said. “How do you mean?”
And then he said: “Well, sometimes you can come across as quite argumentative, but you’re different on your blog.”
I didn’t know what to say at all. It’s true. I can be argumentative. I like to say I’m assertive but, when you’re speaking to prison officers that is often perceived as being the same thing! However, I can’t remember a single time that I’ve actually had an argument with an officer on this wing at all. I wanted an example, but then I didn’t want him to think I was arguing with him! So I said as diplomatically as I could, “OK, I didn’t realise that. Can you give me an example, because I must not realise when I’m doing it.”
He said that maybe it wasn’t so much argumentative, but just disagreements which could come across as being argumentative. But I couldn’t even recall any of these either. In fact I could only recall disagreeing with officers on this wing three times in the past year, and on all three occasions I actually said “I don’t really agree with you but I do accept what you’re saying.” On one of these occasions, when the officer insisted on pushing the point, I even said “OK, I accept that. I don’t want to argue with you”! Which kind of leaves me thinking that anything other than “Yes, Sir, No, Sir, Three bags full, Sir”, will be perceived as argumentative.
However this is something I have come up against in many different regards throughout my sentence. There have been plenty of occasions when I have been told that there is a problem of one kind or another, or that I have done something wrong, and I am told I should take care not to do it again, but I’m never actually told what the problem is! Now there are only two real possibilities here. Either there really is a genuine problem, whether that is argumentativeness or anything else, or there isn’t. If there is then clearly the person telling me about the problem doesn’t want it to continue, and I actually don’t want to keep doing it either. I would much rather correct my faults. But I cannot do that if I’m not told what I did wrong and when.
So, having been told that I come across as argumentative, but given no example of that which I could take as an indicator of what is perceived in that way and which I could bear in mind in the future, I am none the wiser as to when this comes across or why.
Surely common sense would be to tell me everything you can about the issue so that I can put it right? Otherwise I can only try not to argue, which I was already trying anyway!