Saturday, February 10, 2007


One of the more interesting conversations I had last week was about filtering. What we were discussing was the difference between what we do and say at work and what we do and say "off the clock." We were describing how we filter our thoughts and words at work and that sometimes that varies depending on who we're talking to. And that it is also sometimes hard to do. And sometimes we let the filter slip accidentally. We all had a couple of stories when we've said things that might be deemed inappropriate or career damaging.

I struggle with this all the time (witness the blog). I'm a pretty open person and there's not a huge divide between my professional and personal life. I'm wondering, though, if I should up the filter. Should I keep things a little more close to the chest or is it okay to express my opinions openly? On the one hand, I'm a principled person, and I know there are certain values that I hold dear, and if I see those values being violated, then I'm going to speak up. On the other hand, I work in an environment where not everyone shares my values and I might need to learn to let some of the smaller stuff go. One of the reasons I like the higher ed environment, though, is that there's room for passionate people. I just worry sometimes that I get carried away. Perhaps I just need to step back sometimes and see where I can let the passion fly and where I need to reign it in.

Another thing that makes it difficult to maintain the filter is that sometimes there are personalities that make me want to drop it. There are people who provoke me in one way or another. Others had stories along these same lines--a belligerent professor, an offbeat coworker. It's not that these personalities don't exist outside academe, but they tend to thrive there. There's a reason why there's a fair amount of fiction dedicated to the higher ed environment.