Growing Pains

I’ve been doing my job for over a year now and still I haven’t been able to get to a place where defense attorneys (one in particular) fail to intimidate me.

The thing about defense attorneys vs social workers, is that there is this weird power dynamic between the two roles. We are obviously trained to do very different jobs, wherein one of us is trained to be argumentative and demanding and the other is trained to be empowering and sensitive. Defense attorneys know this and totally milk it. And social workers know this and totally continue to fall for it.

Last week, I allowed myself to be conned into making a decision I didn’t want to make by a particular defense attorney. I find her difficult in a couple of ways: one, I don’t think she actually likes me, which is troubling because obviously, I want people to like me. Two, she’s sneaky and has a way of saying things like they are already set in stone. Long story short, I made the decision the attorney wanted me to make and then spent the rest of the day being pissed about it. The next day, when I told my supervisor, instead of getting the sympathy I expected, I got what I deserved – a gentle rebuke for enabling the attorney to walk all over me. This made me even more pissed off – at myself, not my boss. Anyway, I changed my mind about the decision, informed the parties, and got what I wanted. The annoying part is that I unnecessarily caused myself 36 hours of grief for no good reason.

This is the part of my job that makes me want to quit the most – working with people who take advantage of the different ways we approach our jobs. I don’t know very many confrontational social workers – especially at work. When it comes to colleagues, our job is about working with people, not against them. Even with the parents – it’s my goal to work together. I don’t always succeed, but that’s always the starting place.

So, lesson learned. I have 10 more months of required work left at this job. I’m not looking forward to 10 more months of lessons like these, even if they do make me better at my job.

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