Career impediments

A bit over a year ago now, sitting at Berlin central station after a three-day training seminar, sipping a latte while waiting for the train, I was chatting with a medical doctor/researcher at a big cancer research institute in Germany about “career impediments”.

Me: “My problem is that I say what I think. I mean, when something isn’t working, and it’s in the way of making progress with the project or whatever I’m involved in, I point this out, and I make suggestions for how I think this could be fixed. I just can’t help myself. It’s a bit of a problem because so many people tend to take it personally while I’m really just talking about the issues. But I don’t seem to be able to learn any lessons from that, either”.

Him: “My problem is that I believe what people tell me. Even when they’re joking.”

He wasn’t joking, I checked. I told him he’d won.

Which is the bigger impediment?



About steffi suhr

Once upon a time, I was an enthusiastic and hopeful biological oceanographer who did a bunch of work in the Antarctic. I was alternately wearing labcoats or extreme weather clothing and hard hats, but have long since swapped survival suits for dress suits and do science management, currently as the BioMedBridges project manager at the European Bioinformatics Institute. I still like to use my brain. I'm a German serial expat, currently - again - living in the UK.
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2 Responses to Career impediments

  1. chall says:

    Oh boy… rock and a hard place? ;)

    I’d think for career advancements the first might be worse, since people tend to “take it personally and be offended” when they feel ‘they’ve been attackeed’. And since advancement is a lot about “building relationships and collaborations” [at least in my lalaland of science] what people feel about you might be more important that other stuff surrounding it. Or at least more important than I thought originally, in my naive days anyway.

    Although, the latter is what’s going to keep someone from not advancing since people always tell you, “I’ll be happy to help with A and B” – and many a times that is just being polite, doesn’t mean much. You have to make it happen, and ‘just thinking they’re actually doing what the say’ isn’t going to make it happen…

    This is of course, from someone who is fond of solving problems and trusting people ;) (I just have stopped doing the latter in a professional settting and work on trying the deliverance of the solutions… more of things like; “there is nothing wrong with what you’ve done, but it could be even better with this solution”…. ^^ )

    • steffi suhr says:

      It’s interesting how much perceptions and personal preferences matter, isn’t it. Being a “let’s-just-try-to-make-it-work” type of person can be exactly the wrong thing in some environments… but imagine if you got those types of people together in the right kind of place and situation. My, you might even send robots to Mars or something :)