Dissappointment after meeting with lecturer

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    Recently I met with one of my course lecturer for a discussion, and I feel sad and disappointed after this meeting. Throughout our discussion, the lecturer’s arms were folded, and I get the feeling that I was not welcomed. At the end of our meeting, she turned and walked to her computer further inside her office, with her back facing me, and I walked out of her office. This is in contrast to the previous student who met with her before me, where the lecturer walk with the student to the door of her office and said gooodbye.

    After this meeting, I start to do some self-reflection and I think that one possible reason is that the lecturer does not think I am a bright student, and have little potential of going deeper into this field of studing, so she is ‘wasting’ her time on me. I feel dissappointed thinking about this because I really want to further my study in this field. Additionally, of all the lecturers in my school, this lecturer has one of the closest alignment with my research interests, so I feel that she is the one who could give me the most academic support that I need, whether is it comments for my dissertation, or writing a recommendation letter for my future application. I think that if she does not support me, or if she judge me to be a ‘no-so-bright’ student, I will have very little chance of succeeding in my future academic career.

    To add on, I gave up so much to pursue this path. I was doing very well in my previous career, but I decided to give it all up, go back to school (with a heftly fee), to make a career switch to do something that I find more meaningful, but an area that I am not good in. This is a big change for me and I am very afraid. If I fail, I do not know if I have anything left to turn back on, I certainly will not go back to my previous career.

    What should I do?


    Dear Sky:

    The lecturer’s body language (arms folded throughout the conversation with you and turning her back on you while you were still in her office instead of walking you to the door) while behaving differently with another student whom she saw before you is very unfortunate for you because, like you wrote, she is the closest alignment to your research interests and the who could have given you the most academic support, and because you invested so much into this attempted career change.

    Her behavior with you was rude and unprofessional. It is not an indication that  you are not a bright student, but that she is rude and unprofessional. Even if she thought you were not a bright student, it was inappropriate, unprofessional and rude to cross her arms while talking to you and turning her back to you. Her misbehavior is not an indication of who you are, but of whom she is.

    Because of her unprofessional behavior, I tend to think that she was rude to you not because she thinks that you are not a bright student and that she is wasting her time on you, but because she perhaps doesn’t like you, for whatever other reason (could be something about your looks that reminds her of a family member that she dislikes).

    A professional should put their likes and dislikes aside when dealing with people in the context of their profession, but .. again, she wasn’t professional.

    As far as what to do now, where to go from here: if you want to, tell me more about this lecturer, anything that you know about her (I am not asking for identifying information like her name, exact age etc.), her behavior toward you and others at other times, as well as if there is another person in the school you are attending that you can talk to about this issue.



    Hi Sky

    The other day someone held the door open for me and then when I didn’t say thank you said something negative about me. My behavior was rude however I was thinking about a friend that had passed and didn’t notice. Had the person known what I was thinking about I suspect they would have held the door without expecting any response from me.

    The point being that we can’t know why someone does something without talking to them. We often think we know, but we can’t know with certainty.  This is where the rule of charity comes in.

    The rule of charity states that if there are multiple possible explanations for an event and there is no way for you to determine which possible explanation is the correct one then chose the most helpful explanation. (The one that won’t have you creating victim/villain stories. )

    In your situation you have a choice of talking to the teacher about your disappointment. If you make the choice not to then the rule of charity applies.

    Possible explanation. The student that the teacher just talked to told them something that triggered them to retreat within themselves. Perhaps not very professional but we are all human.  Have you ever not been 100% present for someone needing your attention?



    Dear anita and Peter:

    Thank you for your kindness in your reply.

    Dear Peter:

    This is the second time I have met with this lecturer, and she treated me in almost the same manner for both meetings. So I think that it may not be a one-off incident that put her in a bad mood.

    I find your rule of charity helpful for me to think about such incidents. Using this rule lead me to think that her behaviour can be due to a mismatch between our personality and not because she is out to make my life difficult or I am too imperfect to her.

    Thanks again!


    Your Welcome Sky

    I’ve found the rule of charity helps in the process of letting go. In the past I would have let a experience in which I imagined the others intentions negatively overwhelm my inner dialog for days. That’s the thing with such inner dialog is never about the person that hurt us, we aren’t actually talking to them, were talking to ourselves through a imagined them.  Such dialog teaches us more about ourselves then about who they may or may not be.  The rule of charity allows us to recolonize that and let it go.

    I like your very possible explanation. no victim or villains just people.

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